A BLACKER Hill rider picked up a trophy at the world famous Isle of Man TT 12 months after he crashed into the crowd at 170 miles per hour at the same event, causing a man to lose his leg.
Ten spectators were injured when firefighter Jonathan Howarth lost control of his bike at the Bray Hill section of the race last year. Seven of them had to have surgery as a result of the accident, caused by a mechanical failure, and one had his leg amputated.
Howarth, 31, suffered the least severe injuries of everyone involved in the crash as he fractured a bone in his leg and lost some skin from his genitals which required months of treatment.
This year's TT was much more successful for Howarth, who received a 'bronze replica' trophy for finishing within a certain percentage of the winning rider's time in the senior event.
"It was a lot better this time than last time and it was nice to go back and put things right in a way," he said. "The reaction I have had from the motorsport world has been brilliant.
"I have had loads of support even from the spectators who were injured in the crash. All of them have contacted me to tell me not to feel guilty and that accidents happen in our sport.
"They had ignored the signs that tell them what can happen if they stand too close because they are enthusiasts and they wanted the thrill of standing within a few inches of bikes that were going at hundreds of miles an hour. Everyone is attracted to this sport by the danger and we know the risks.
"My job as a fireman is to help people so of course I don't like thinking that I played a part in anyone being seriously injured. But I wouldn't say I feel that guilty because these things happen in motorsport."
Howarth did not miss a day of work after his crash because he didn't want his employers to stop him competing. He says he wanted to get back on a bike straight away but had to wait six weeks for a new one after his machine was destroyed in the TT.
** The full story appears in the Barnsley Chronicle, dated June 13. **