A DETERMINED businessman has admitted he is lucky to be alive after a horror horse riding accident on his birthday almost left him paralysed.
Darab Rezai, 55, who runs a number of businesses in Hartlepool, suffered a badly broken neck after he was thrown from his horse.
Mr Rezai spent 12 days in James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where a specialist scan found his neck was broken in four different places.
The married dad-of-three has been left wearing a neck brace while the injury heals, but admits staying focused on his businesses has helped him through his ordeal.
The accident was almost identical to that suffered by late Superman actor Christopher Reeves in 1995 which left him paralysed.
Mr Rezai was on his five-year-old horse Olivia at an indoor riding club in Dalton Piercy on August 27 when the accident happened.
He said: “My saddle was nipping the horse because it didn’t fit properly.
“She started bucking and was determined to throw me off.
“The horse threw me off over her head.
“I am very fortunate to be alive and not be disabled.
“I’m pleased for my family I’m still here. I’m very, very lucky to be alive and not be paralysed.”
Mr Rezai’s horrified daughter Leona, 22, quickly called for an ambulance and he was rushed to hospital in Middlesbrough.
Scans revealed he had broken his neck in four different places, but luckily no permanent damage was caused.
He spent 12 days in hospital before he was allowed home to Dalton Piercy.
He was fitted with a neck brace which is drilled into his skull.
It is attached to a body brace to aid the bones to repair.
The brace is expected to be removed next month.
Despite the serious injury Mr Rezai continued to work on his businesses including his new project of opening a nightclub in Hartlepool.
Mr Rezai bought the former Post Office in Whitby Street, just weeks before the accident.
The former Chicago Rock and MGM venue will open under the new name of Zeus next Friday, October 28.
Mr Rezai has pumped around £250,000 into renovating the building, and the venture is set to create 18 new jobs.
It has been completely refitted with new sound and light systems and decorations.
Mr Rezai, married to Dorothy, 54, said: “I was gutted when I had the accident, but I was more determined than ever to fulfil my wish of a decent, trendy late night clubbing experience in Hartlepool.
“It is a beautiful building.
“When I was in hospital having my MRI scan, I started doing my business plan in my head to get me through it.”
He added: “I definitely think there is a demand. I think Church Street would benefit from it.
“It will attract more people from the area and we are going to operate a club that is safe for people’s daughters and sons.”
Mr Rezai, who runs Marco Polo Restaurant in Murray Street and also has property businesses, has teamed up with DJ Stuart Leighton, from Hartlepool, to manage the new club.
It will operate from Wednesday to Sunday between 10pm-3am.