A young Portlaoise man is in a coma in an Australian hospital following a hang-gliding accident.
Richard Nicholls (26) was injured in the horrific accident that saw his instructor killed.
The accident happened on Wednesday of this week at a cliff at Lennox Head on the New South Wales north coast, close to the popular tourist spot of Byron Bay and about two hours south of Brisbane.
Both men were found unconscious at the scene. It’s believed they had fallen from the hang-glider before it crashed – the 67-year-old instructor was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Nicholls was treated by paramedics before being winched off the cliff via helicopter and flown to Goal Coast Hospital.
The Nicholls family, who are very well known in Laois in business and sporting circles, were in Australia for a family occasion.
His parents Harry and Trish are currently with him in the hospital where he is in an induced coma. It is hoped that he will be brought out of the coma in the coming days.
Richard’s dad Harry is a long-established electrical contractor in Portlaoise and has been heavily involved in Portlaoise Rugby Club for a number of years while his mother Trish is a very active member of the Trilogy Triathlon Club.
Richard himself is a talented rugby player who won a Towns Cup with Tullow in 2017, scoring a try in the semi-final and final.
Richard played underage rugby with Portlaoise and then in Kilkenny College where he went to secondary school. He linked up with Tullow while studying in IT Carlow and was a key member of the club’s team that won an historic first Towns Cup.
Irish international Sean O’Brien was part of their management team.