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Jenkins back at Chrysler Jeep helm

Gerry Jenkins: "To get back to living as normally as possible meant losing the leg and going to a prosthetic".

Chrysler Jeep Australia boss determined to carry on despite leg amputation

6 Sep 2004

THE managing director of Chrysler Jeep Australia/Pacific, Gerry Jenkins, has publicly spoken for the first time about the motorcycle accident which resulted in the amputation of his right leg.

The 46-year-old Canadian, who took over as CJA/P boss in March 2003, crashed head-on into a Toyota LandCruiser while riding his Yamaha R1 sportsbike in country Victoria near Broadford last March.

Mr Jenkins’ right leg, right hand and left shoulder were shattered in the accident and his left hand broken. He was airlifted from the scene of the accident to Prince Alfred Hospital in Melbourne for emergency surgery. But his right leg was too badly damaged to be saved.

"When I did come to at the Alfred, the first conversation I had with the surgeon was ‘we’ll have to remove the leg’. So I was very disappointed. It was very traumatic," Mr Jenkins said.

"But you’ve got to move on right? I had my wife (Giulia) by my side and we talked about it and made the decision right there y’know, let’s get back to living, versus trying to salvage the leg which would have probably been an impossibility with a high risk of infection.

"To get back to living as normally as possible meant losing the leg and going to a prosthetic, so we voted for that and the leg was removed."Mr Jenkins was off work for three months rehabilitating in Melbourne. He returned to CJA’s Mulgrave offices in July and had a prosthetic fitted in August. He made his public return to duty at the recent media launch for the Chrysler Crossfire Roadster in the Barossa Valley.

"I have been working really hard at rehabilitation. I have got my left hand completely back to normal, that’s just plated broken parts and all that. The right hand is 60 per cent but the prognosis is very good," he said.

"I have had this German prosthetic leg now for two weeks and I can get around. I’m not exactly Jana Pittman here, but I feel confident I will over time be able to do a lot better than what I am currently.

"I have got a strong support system at home and the office, and also at the hospital at the rehab centre. I have all the confidence I will be able to return to where I was."Mr Jenkins said he planned to continue in his career at Chrysler Group, although he is unsure just how that path will now develop.

"My plan was to be here for three years. Who knows, I might make this a longer step in my career, maybe even end my career here now. I don’t know, the jury is still out on that, I haven’t really decided," he said.

"Will this limit my career though? I don’t really think so. Ambition is a mental thing really, it’s not really a physical thing. Sure, physical limitations contain you in one way or another, but it really depends on your fortitude and your drive."

IN HIS OWN WORDS:

Gerry Jenkins on that fateful day

I have been a motorcyle buff for several years and I always have a couple of bikes. I change them very frequently and I had this new bike, an R1 Yamaha, beautiful bike.

The accident had nothing to do with the bike.

Usually I was a very safe rider, usually a Saturday or Sunday morning very early.

This particular weekend it was a Sunday … First thing I jumped out of bed, threw on my leathers, went down to the garage, got on the bike and went for a ride. It was a beautiful day, gorgeous, nice and crisp.

I took the Hume all the way far north that I could, which is what I normally do, got off around Broadford and I remember getting off the road. I remember the engine sounding great, the weather was great and everything was perfect.

And then I don’t remember a whole lot.

Next thing I’m on the side of the road on my back and somebody's pulling my helmet off, and eventually the medics showed up and eventually a helicopter and theyairlifted me to the Alfred.

I don’t know (what happened in the accident). Don’t know, don’t really care right now. It’s not going to go away.

I know that their vehicle was damaged to the point where they had to get it towed, they couldn’t drive away. And my bike was scrapped.

We somehow collided somewhere in a turn, somewhere in a very narrow space.

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