This past week we had a special visitor stay with us.  Her name is Lyn Riley.  We first met Lyn a little over two years ago in Huntington hospital  where our son Mark was recuperating from his motorcycle accident.  The Air 5 helicopter crew who rescued Mark asked Lyn to come and check on how he was doing.  We formed a special bond with her from that day onward.

Lyn is one of those larger-than-life people who lives life to the full.  EVERYTHING matters and so does EVERYONE.  If you are low on the enthusiasm chart, just spend some time with Lyn.  She’ll give you a good top up!

Lyn’s official role is clinical care coordinator for the LA County Sheriff’s Department – Air 5 medivac program.  She is responsible for the continuing education and quality improvement programs for medics in the SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics), SEB (Special Enforcement Bureau) and ESD (Emergency Services Detail) teams.  The crew who picked Mark off the road belong to the ESD.  The crew is made up of two pilots, two paramedics and a crew chief.  Lyn personally trained the two paramedics (seen below) who tended to Mark’s injuries, stemming the bleeding and saving his life.

The Air 5 Crew (from Lft to Rght): Brice (Paramedic), Rod (Crew Chief), Tom and Clint (pilots) and Tracy (Paramedic)

Lyn would often come and visit Mark (and us) in the hospital ward.  She was never in a hurry and always had time for us.  Whatever we needed in the hospital, she would try and take care of it.  She was the one who organized the Air 5 crew to come and visit Mark and do a fly past of his window.  As they circled the building, the windows and instruments in the room all started shaking – which didn’t go down all that well with some of the staff.  I think it might have been the first and last time they tried that!  Before Mark flew back to NZ, she had them land on the roof and Mark was taken up there to meet them.  That’s the kind of person Lyn is.

Lyn and Mark with Air 5 crew lifting off at the Hospital heliport

We thought that it was pretty cool that after all this time Lyn would fly out from the States to come and see us.  She timed it for Mark’s birthday so that we could celebrate it together.  While she was here, Mark took her to see some of the sights in our region including the Nelson Lakes, Golden Bay and even some salmon fishing.

Mark, Britney (Mark’s girlfriend) and Lyn checking out some of the pics they took on their trip to Golden Bay

The day after Mark’s birthday, a special package turned up.  It was sent by Brice Stella, once of the paramedics who tended to Mark on the side of the road.  He has taken a special interest in Mark throughout his recovery.  Brice had one of the Air 5 flight jackets made for Mark, with his name embroidered on it.  It came with an official letter from the LA County Sheriff’s Office.  This is what it read:

Dear Mr. Somervell.

The men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB) have been following your recovery these past two years. Your tenacity and attitude has been an inspiration to all of us.

As you may know, the radio call sign of the SEB Emergency services Detail is 240R (240 Robert).  As the Captain of the Special Enforcement Bureau, I would like to assign you the honorary call sign of 240R-KW (240 Robert- Kiwi Warrior).  You are the only person we have ever given an SEB call sign.  We are proud to have you as one of us.

I wish you continued success and good health.  We all look forward to seeing you at SEB the next time you visit the U.S.



This means when Mark is in LA next time, he will become part of the Air 5 crew, with his own call sign (240R Robert- Kiwi Warrior).

Francelle and I continue to be amazed by the events that have unfolded since Mark’s accident.  We’ve also been amazed by the kind of people who have taken an avid interest him and his recovery.  That convinces us that God his hand on all this in special way and very likely there will be more surprises down the road we don’t yet know about.

We are very thankful for Lyn for all the love and kindness shown to our family and to Brice who has been a great encouragement to Mark (and us) throughout this journey. You are both special to us all.

Here’s a video of Mark opening the package.  The memory card maxed out just when he went to read the letter!  It shows Lyn in her full bloom 🙂


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