Mountain biker Ryan McConnaughey took his usual daily ride near San Diego only to find himself going over the handlebars in a steep section. He slammed into the ground, head-first, helmet on.
Sprawled on his back, he soon found he couldn’t move from the neck down. “I knew for sure that I needed to get medical attention as quickly as possible. My brain kind of kicked into survival mode,” he said.
With his iPhone in his backpack, he began talking to his Apple Watch.
Mountain biker paralyzed in hard crash said Apple Watch saved his life
McConnaughey, from Spring Valley, California, biked that day on trails in nearby Jamul. He told San Diego’s KGTV 10 the Apple Watch saved his life after the crash. He’d had it for a few years and mainly used it as a fitness tracker up until then, he said.
“My phone, it’s in my in backpack,” he said, describing the aftermath to a reporter. “There’s no way I’m going to get to that. Instantly, I’m like, ‘I’m wearing my watch.’ I said, ‘Hey Siri, call Peter,'” referring to a friend biking nearby who knew his location.
“It just felt amazing. It was so assuring,” he said. Both he and his friend called 911.
And McConnaughey left a voicemail for his girlfriend, Lauren, that ended up going viral on TikTok. Not knowing his fate, he said goodbye, apologized and told her he loved her.
“Didn’t know what was going to happen … Just wanted to say goodbye,” said McConnaughey. “I also felt it was my fault. I got hurt. I knew things would never be the same after that.”
Several surgeries required
But soon authorities located the injured man. He was flown to a hospital for treatment. It took “several life-saving surgeries to stabilize the shattered vertebrae in his neck and relieve pressure on his damaged spine,” KGTV reported.
Diagnosed a quadriplegic, McConnaughey spent months undergoing rehab at a special facility in Colorado before returning home. He has regained some motion in his wrists and arms.
And now he plans to attend San Diego State University in the fall.
“That watch saved my life. No doubt about it. No way anybody would have found me. I never would have thought I’d be using an Apple Watch to make a life-saving phone call,” said McConnaughey.
And in the near future, accident victims may have another Apple Watch option for reaching help even without a signal.