Road train crash
I was once in a serious car accident on an outback road in Western Australia. I was with two friends when we hit a turning road train at high speed. I was lucky to survive the accident. I tried to help the driver breathe again but he did not survive. I helped the other passenger out of the car and supported him as we walked along a road. I learned many things from this terrible experience. I learned about letting go of anger. I also discovered the benefits of learning emergency first aid, and the horrible results of drink driving.
Posted by: Barney Nolan, on 31/08/12
We hit a road train.
I woke up on impact. Dust and broken windscreen glass hurtled through the car cabin. The driver of the vehicle I was in landed next to me in the back seat. He was obviously dead. Time slowed down. Adrenaline rushed through me. I could smell something burning. It smelt like the car was about to go up in flames. The engine had been pushed through into the cabin and I was trapped by the driver's seat that had snapped off and been pushed backwards, pinning my legs. I had to drag my legs up and push the driver's seat forward at the same time to free myself, and the effort caused something to tear in my back.
We had hit a road train. My friend Scotty who was driving the car had not been wearing his seatbelt. He had bounced off the steering wheel when we collided with the rear trailer. The road train driver had slowed down to make a left-hand turn at a crossroads and Scotty had slammed into him at over 100 kilometres an hour. According to the autopsy, Scotty was over the legal alcohol limit. The driver of the road train kept going once he had completed the corner. I was later told he thought he felt a shift in the load as he slowed the vehicle to negotiate the corner.
Once I was free I leant forward to check on Danno, the other passenger in the front seat. He was slumped forward, unconscious and not breathing. The car roof had caved in, opening a wound on his head. I couldn't revive him from the back seat so I had to kick my crumpled side door open and race around to drag him clear of the wreck. Danno is part Maori and a big fella to drag around. Once I had him clear I laid him flat and checked his breathing again. He had resumed breathing but was still unconscious so I ran back to the wreck and made an unsuccessful attempt to revive Scotty with CPR or emergency resuscitation.
We were somewhere between the towns of Southern Cross and Marvel Loch, near the gold mine in Western Australia where we lived and worked. It was about 2am and there was no hope of any help driving by. Danno was beginning to resurface so I checked him over again before slapping him awake. His right knee was bleeding and damaged and I also detected broken ribs, probably from the seat belt. My ribs were beginning to ache too as the adrenaline wore off a bit. I could see a light up the road in the distance and I decided to head for it in case Danno had internal bleeding. I had to support Danno's weight for three kilometres up the road to another mine site before I could phone for an ambulance.
There are a number of valuable lessons I learned from this experience. Mainly, I've never had anything to do with drink-driving again. I also learned the value of emergency resuscitation as Danno would have died as well if I hadn't studied first aid prior to the crash.
Another valuable experience I had at the time involved my boss at the gold mine who was a Vietnam veteran by the name of Ray. He caught up with me once I was out of hospital as he had heard I was angry with the road train driver for not stopping.
Ray had lived through more hell than I would ever experience and he explained the benefits of letting go of anger. Holding anger inside only makes you sick and it tends to come out sideways at the ones you love instead. Often the person you are angry with continues with their life and the person holding the anger continues to suffer by their own choice. Ray's explanation resonated with me and I was able to let go of my anger for the road train driver on the spot.
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