Ashley Treseder before his accident.
Ashley Treseder before his accident.

Tragic decision on romantic trip

It was the last day of Ashley Treseder's holidays with his fiancee.

The pair had been visiting Shoal Bay at Port Stephens, north of Newcastle, on January 3 this year when after lunch he decided to do one final activity.

"We were walking to the car and I turned back around and went, 'Hang on, I haven't jumped off the pier yet'," he said.

"I said, let's do this quick and we can go home."

But it's a decision Mr Treseder will forever regret, with the dive leaving him with a severe spinal cord injury.

The 31-year-old lost movement from the chest down.

"It was like I had been hit with a sledgehammer or a lightening bolt," he said.

"I think straight away it was shock and the realisation because I was conscious the whole time.

"My body was just kind of churning. My head drifted to the surface but the rest of my body was sinking and I realised nothing was responding.

"I could hold my breathe and that was as much control as I had."

 

A jump off a pier left him unable to move from the chest down.
A jump off a pier left him unable to move from the chest down.

The tide was lower than Mr Treseder he had thought.

"(The pier) is pretty commonly used for people jumping off and diving," he said.

"This one time I did it, the tide had gone out. It was lower than I'd seen at low tide but I didn't realise.

"Looking back at it, I remember the person who turned me over would have been at chest height."

Mr Treseder said while he hadn't been back there since, he can only assume he hit sand, even though he thought it was much harder.

"It felt to me like concrete below the surface of the water," he said.

 

Mr Treseder spent five months at Royal Rehab.
Mr Treseder spent five months at Royal Rehab.

Mr Treseder spent three-and-a-half weeks in hospital and five months at Royal Rehab private hospital in Sydney's Ryde, learning to regain his independence with the help of assistive technology.

He and his fiancee broke up when he got home from rehab.

He's now set up his home with Amazon Alexa so he can work the lights, airconditioner, TVs, vacuum cleaner and open front door or garage with his voice.

Royal Rehab has been fundraising for the Royal Rehab Assisted Technology Hub, set to serve as a centre of excellence in Australia.