GREYHOUND trainer Dave Ward knows he's lucky to be alive.
And he also knows the boundless generosity of the greyhound community Australia-wide.
Dave, 49, from Dyers Crossing nearly lost his life in a car accident just outside of Bulahdelah 10 weeks ago.
"I took a couple of dogs to race at The Gardens in Newcastle,'' he explained.
"But it was when all the storms were about and the meeting was called off.''
That was just the start of his misfortune.
It was on his way home that he had the accident. His car hit water on the highway, went through a guard rail and plummeted 80 metres down an embankment. That was around 7pm.
Somehow he managed to fight his way back to the highway, despite being badly injured. Just how, he isn't sure.
"At 3am people saw me on the highway, covered in blood trying to wave trucks down and called an ambulance,'' he said.
"But I don't remember anything about that. All that I can remember is waking up in John Hunter Hospital.''
Dave had five fractures in his back and a separated shoulder, along with head injuries. He still has trouble with movement on his right side.
"I've lost some sight out my left eye and also I've lost about 90 per cent of my sense of taste,'' he said.
"But that apparently happens with head injuries. Hopefully that'll get better.''
His car, which wasn't insured, was a write off.
Monolife, one of the two greyhounds he had in the car, broke four legs and had to be put down by police when they found the vehicle.
"The other, Deadly Sprite, must have got out and taken off into the bush,'' Dave explained.
"He was found at Bulahdelah Produce a bit later on, obviously looking for a feed.''
Monolife was the quicker of the two. Deadly Sprite has since returned to racing.
Dave's been training greyhounds for 14 months.
"Last year I trained 13 winners. That might have been a bad omen,'' he says, managing a smile.
Rob Versteeg, Dave's mentor, heard of his plight and decided his mate needed a hand.
He contacted the website Greyhound Data and donations for an online auction started to pour in from around the nation.
This included 11 valuable greyhound straws (frozen semen) along with two pups, one worth $5000.
Taree Greyhound Club's committee was also active in fund raising, mainly with meat raffles.
In all more than $23,000 was raised, $21,000 from the auction - enough for Dave to buy a new car.
Dave admits he's humbled by the support he's received.
"I just want to thank everyone,'' he said this week at Taree Greyhound Club's Kanangra Drive headquarters.
"They've been amazing.''
"We greyhound people stick together,'' a Taree club official said.