Miracle crash survivor, 22, thanks Shropshire rescue service crews

A motorist who survived a crash when his car left a notorious stretch of road in Shropshire before hitting the kerb and veering up the side of an embankment has praised the emergency crew which rescued him.

Market Drayton miracle crash survivor Tom Clay thanks rescue crew
Market Drayton miracle crash survivor Tom Clay thanks rescue crew

Tom Clay, 22, was driving home from a friend’s house on November 7 when his vehicle skidded on mud along stretch of the A53 between Loggerheads and Market Drayton, a known accident blackspot.

He lost control after the wheel struck with the kerb and the tyre exploded, causing the car to veer up the embankment then roll numerous times before coming to a standstill.

Mr Clay suffered fractures to his spine, neck, sternum, arm and eye socket as well as deep cuts to his face and head caused debris from the rolling vehicle.

After 14 hours of treatment from orthopaedic, spinal and facial specialists at the Royal Stoke Hospital he was miraculously able to walk out of the hospital, just 10 days later on his 22nd birthday.

The petrol station worker, who is based at Morrison's in Market Drayton, was recognised at the crash scene by the town's rescue workers when they arrived. Firefighter Louise Retel-Gould was the first to tend to him.

Mr Clay said: “I wanted to thank the crews from Shropshire and Loggerheads personally for helping me. If it wasn’t for their quick response who knows where I’d be now.

“I knew I was in safe hands when I saw Louise. The on-call teams did a fantastic job caring for me – I really knew I would be okay when I recognised the rest of the crew.

Blacked out

“I was driving home like I’ve done before, just like any other night from my friend’s house when the back end of the car skidded out behind me.

“I blacked out when the car was rolling and when I came to, I could just make out Louise through the blood in my eyes.

“It all happened so quickly and know I’m lucky to be alive. It just goes to show that no matter how familiar the roads are, you always need to keep an eye on conditions. It might be the same road, but you can’t always drive in the same way.

A crew from Staffordshire’s Loggerheads station, West Midland Ambulance and the Medical Emergency Response Intervention Team also attended.

Market Drayton watch manager Mark Smith said: “Almost 30 per cent of all road traffic collisions in Shropshire in 2019 resulted in death or serious injury and around 45 of these involved someone, aged between 16-25.

“In Tom’s case as a relatively new driver he wouldn’t have had much experience driving in winter conditions. Mud on the road is a real danger and can change the way vehicles handle, causing skidding, especially in wet or freezing conditions.

“Mud can be just as slippery as ice particularly on rural roads like the A53. Although roads have speed limits, it’s important to drive to the conditions rather than the speed limit, something Tom has had first-hand experience of. It really is a miracle not only that he is alive but also this he is recovering so well from the accident.”

Shropshire's Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton said: “This incident highlights the importance of our on-call stations and having teams ready to respond and be at the scene within minutes.

“The crew should be very proud of the difference they make in their communities, showing that being on the scene quickly with a professional and well-equipped team can potentially mean the difference between life and death.”

A report by the Road Safety Foundation stated that the A53 is one of the most dangerous roads in the UK, with numerous accidents reported on the stretch where Mr Clay lost control.

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