A Harry Potter stunt double, who was paralysed in a horrific accident while practicing flying scenes for the blockbuster film, has told of the ‘sense of tragedy’ he felt when he realised he would never walk again. David Holmes, who was 25 at the time of the accident, was rehearsing a flying scene involving an explosion for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows when he was hurled into a wall before plummeting to the ground at the Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden, near Watford, Hertfordshire.
The former competitive gymnast remained conscious but told crew members: ‘I can’t feel my legs’, before being taken to hospital where he was told he had broken his neck and would be paralysed for life.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Mr Holmes, now 30, recalled the horrific accident which occurred in January 2009.
He said he was thrown against the wall during a stunt and landed on the crash mat underneath.
He told the newspaper: ‘My stunt co-ordinator grabbed my hand and said, “Squeeze my fingers”.
‘I could move my arm to grab his hand but I couldn’t squeeze his fingers.
‘There was definitely a sense of tragedy for me, but also a sense of sheer determination to beat it and better it.’
Mr Holmes, who worked as Daniel Radcliffe’s body double on all of the Potter films before the accident, was initially taken to A&E at Watford General Hospital, but was later transferred to The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, north-west London, where the extent of his injuries became apparent.
A source at the Leavesden-based film studios at the time of the accident said: ‘It is thought he may have been caught by the explosion and hit the ground very hard.
‘Everyone is just hoping he makes a good recovery. It has come as a terrible shock.’
After the extent of Mr Holmes’ injuries became apparent, several of the Harry Potter cast and crew visited him at the specialist spinal injury unit.
Daniel Radcliffe, 24, and Tom Felton, 26, who played Draco Malfoy in the blockbuster movies, both visited the film worker at the hospital and could be seen visibly moved following their visit.
Mr Holmes, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, who started his stunt career as a competitive gymnast from the age of just six, spent six months in the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital following the accident.
Despite being wheelchair-bound, he has since taken up driving a specially-modified car around race tracks at 150mph and has set up a production company, Ripple Productions, with two friends, who are also tetraplegic.
He is also an official appeal ambassador for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and continues to raise money for the hospital and spinal injury unit which treated him in the wake of the accident.