Sir Richard Branson's 'life flashed before eyes' in bicycle accident

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Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson said he thought he was going to die after crashing his bicycle.

The Virgin founder badly damaged his cheek and suffered severe cuts to his knee, chin, shoulder and body.

The accident occurred on Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

Sir Richard said: "I was heading down a hill towards Leverick Bay when it suddenly got really dark and I managed to hit a sleeping policeman hump in the road head on.

"The next thing I knew, I was being hurled over the handlebars and my life was literally flashing before my eyes.

"I really thought I was going to die. I went flying head-first towards the concrete road, but fortunately my shoulder and cheek took the brunt of the impact, and I was wearing a helmet that saved my life.

"My bike went flying off the cliff and disappeared. We've since recovered the crumpled bicycle, completely destroyed. My cheek has been badly damaged and my knee, chin, shoulder and body severely cut."

Sir Richard said his assistant, Helen, was first on the scene as he was "lying prostrate on the road" and then another member of his team, George, "sprinted from the bottom of the hill" to assist.

He travelled to Miami, USA for x-rays and scans, and described himself as "extremely fortunate" to have only suffered a cracked cheek and torn ligaments.

Sir Richard said: "My biggest hardship is having to drink tea out of a straw."

He was cycling with his children Holly and Sam as part of his training for next month's Virgin Strive Challenge, an endurance event from the base of the Matterhorn in the Alps to the summit of Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy.

He still hopes to take part in the event.

The crash happened on Monday, the day before Sir Richard's Twitter account posted CCTV images appearing to show Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn walking past empty unreserved train seats before he was filmed sitting on the floor complaining about "ram-packed" carriages on a Virgin Trains service.

It was also the fifth anniversary of the fire which destroyed his luxury home on Necker Island.

Sir Richard joked: "What a way to mark it!"

The 66-year-old billionaire went on: "My attitude has always been, if you fall flat on your face, at least you're moving forward.

"All you have to do is get back up and try again. At least I'm practising what I preach - though a little too literally!"

He said he has "been in the wars" this year, twice knocking his teeth out playing tennis, being "kissed by a ray" while swimming and running into a bulletproof door.

Sir Richard added that he had experienced "many brushes with death, not least in my ballooning adventures".

From 1995 to 1998 he made several attempts to circumnavigate the globe by balloon with Per Lindstrand and Steve Fossett.