Mountain Biker Credits Apple Watch With Saving His Life After Crash Left Him Paralyzed

by Caitlin Berard

In April, Ryan McConnaughey was mountain biking in San Diego County with his friend, Peter. An experienced mountain biker, the 23-year-old tacked the California mountainside with fearless speed and unwavering confidence, certain that he could handle anything the trail could throw his way.

As the day wore on, Ryan and Peter went their separate ways, the friends continuing their adventures alone. Then the unthinkable occurred. As he had done a thousand times before, Ryan McConnaughey jumped a hill. But instead of landing the jump, he flew over his handlebars, his head spiking into the ground.

Thankfully, his helmet saved his head from injury. The impact of the crash landing, however, shattered the vertebrae in his neck, leaving him without the use of his arms and legs.

“I instantly couldn’t move anything from my neck down,” McConnaughey recalled to People. “And I was by myself, literally in the middle of nowhere. So if I were to yell or anything, nobody would find me.”

Though he couldn’t move, McConaughey was in no pain, which he knew wasn’t a good sign. The mountain biker was well aware that he was in need of urgent medical attention. Unfortunately, however, his phone was in his backpack. He couldn’t move a single finger, let alone reach into his bag for his phone.

Ryan McConaughey Reaches Fellow Mountain Biker via Apple Watch

Out of options, the injured athlete called out the only help available – his Apple Watch. He asked Apple’s voice assistant, Siri, to call Peter, the biker he had been with earlier in the day. To his amazement, Siri responded, connecting him with his friend.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” McConnaughey said of the last-ditch effort. “It was a life or death situation. My cell phone was in my backpack, which was on my back, and I could not… There was no way I could have gotten to that. There’s no way.”

No doubt overcome with panic for his friend, Peter called emergency services, who arrived shortly thereafter, airlifting McConnaughey to a local hospital. The wounded mountain biker then underwent multiple surgeries to stabilize the vertebrae and relieve pressure on his spine. And though he was diagnosed as a quadriplegic, he escaped the harrowing incident with his life.

After four months in the hospital and continued therapy in an effort to regain movement, McConnaughey remains confident he wouldn’t be alive to tell the tale without his Apple Watch. “I think about it all the time,” the mountain biker said. ‘There’s no way I would have survived through the night.”

Since the crash, Ryan McConnaughey and his girlfriend, Lauren, have raised over $40,000 in recovery funds via spotfund. “The support that I’ve gained is just… Many of those donations came from people I’ve never even met before,” Ryan explained. “I’ve just never seen this side of people before, so it’s nice to be able to get this support from people I don’t even know.”