Toby Bird was skimming across Lake Macquarie on a jet ski when he hit a wave and came out feeling like something was wrong.
When he looked down, his right leg was missing.
To clarify, it was his $40,000 prosthetic carbon-fiber leg that had come off in the water.
“I looked down and then I said to me mate, oi bro my leg fell off,” the Belmont man said.
“We stopped and went back to look for it, but it was just gone.”
Mr Bird, 24, thinks the leg came off near Pelican on Monday about 3pm. The throttle on the jet ski got stuck and he was thrown off at this spot in the lake.
The two mates combed the waves, but the heavy water-proof leg had already sunk into the water below. Mr Bird lost his right leg in a car crash at Cameron Park five years ago and now requires a prosthetic to get around.
“I was speeding along and I saw these girls step out on the road. I swerved to miss them but I went straight off the road and into a pole,” he said.
“There have been a lot of legless jokes since then.”
The water-sports enthusiast uses the missing prosthetic when he heads out on the lake, or to the beach. He did not have the leg insured and is hopeful it might be found or even wash up.
“I only just found out you could insure legs,” he laughed.
“I have got another one to get around on, but this one is for when I go jet skiing and swimming.
“I’m usually at the beach every day.”
When the leg first disappeared into the lake the two mates had the idea to ring a local scuba shop – Snorkel and Dive Safari at Swansea.
Local man Chris Smith was in the shop when the call came through and decided to volunteer his time to help out. He was motivated by Mr Bird’s story, having also suffered major medical complications after he was crushed in an accident at Kurri Kurri several years ago.
“I am grateful to be alive and when I heard about what happened I just grabbed my gear and I went,” Mr Smith said.
“I had a lot of people help me in my life, so it was the least I could do to help a person in need and something unfortunate had happened to Toby, just like myself.”
After an hour of diving the Good Samaritan came up empty handed.
“I tried my best, but the current was too strong and the visibility was getting poorer,” he said.
“The problem is the water travels so fast in there, it could be anywhere.”
The search for the missing leg has now gone public. Everyone on the lake is encouraged to keep an eye out for the runaway prosthetic and if found, contact Newcastle Herald or Mr Bird directly on Facebook.
The leg is grey in colour, with a skin coloured foot, but as its owner said ‘there can’t be that many legs floating around the lake’.
“Don’t get off on the wrong foot, get in touch if you find it,” Mr Bird said.
“I don’t think there is a black market for prosthetics so we should be right.”
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If the leg cannot be found, Mr Bird’s mate has started a fundraising page to help him buy a new one. Check it out here.