Branson injured in biking accident

Mr Branson said he thought he was going to die in the biking accident in the British Virgin Islands last week. He suffered injuries to his cheek and torn ligaments.
Mr Branson said he thought he was going to die in the biking accident in the British Virgin Islands last week. He suffered injuries to his cheek and torn ligaments.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • British billionaire Richard Branson said he thought he was going to die in a biking accident in the British Virgin Islands last week in which he injured his cheek and tore some ligaments.

Virgin boss Branson, who has built a vast business empire and is known for his daredevil stunts, said on Friday that the accident happened when he was cycling with his children, Holly and Sam, and hit a bump on a road on the Caribbean island of Virgin Gorda.

"The next thing I knew, I was being hurled over the handlebars and my life was literally flashing before my eyes," the 66-year-old wrote in a blog post, accompanied by graphic photos showing his injuries. "I really thought I was going to die," he said, adding that the helmet he was wearing probably saved his life. The bike fell off a cliff in the accident.

Mr Branson said he had travelled to Miami for hospital scans but would still be able to take part next month in the biking, hiking and running Virgin Strive Challenge that he was training for.

Mr Branson has set a series of aviation and nautical adventure records, although he failed, despite numerous attempts, to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe non-stop in a hot air balloon.

These exploits brought Mr Branson close to tragedy in 1998 when he and his co-pilot had to ditch their balloon in the Pacific Ocean after low pressure forced the craft down. His Virgin Galactic space tourism venture suffered a setback in 2014 when a fatal explosion brought down its SpaceShipTwo, killing its co-pilot.

Mr Branson is known as a campaigner for drug law reforms and a string of environmental initiatives. He was also a key voice in favour of Britain staying in the European Union in the June 23 referendum.

Since 1978 he has owned a paradise island getaway in the British Virgin Islands - a tax haven.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 28, 2016, with the headline 'Branson injured in biking accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe