Richard’s story

“He reached back with the arm that wasn’t broken and touched my leg. I knew then that both my legs were broken. I don’t know how or why, but I just knew.”

Whilst visiting his husband’s family in Newport on the Isle of Wight, Richard, his husband Warren, and Warren’s parents, Yvonne and Derrick were travelling in a car that had a head-on collision with a double-decker bus, which was hit by another car and pushed the bus into their path.

The large-scale incident and life-threatening injuries meant we responded alongside two of our Air Ambulance colleagues. A major incident was declared.

On their way back to the ferry terminal in Yarmouth, with Warren and Derrick in the front, Richard and Yvonne in the back, all was normal. Until it wasn’t.

One minute Richard was looking out of the window. The next minute, the car was rolling backwards into a ditch. Filling with smoke. Dusted in broken glass.

“I was very disorientated,” said Richard.

“I looked around and Yvonne wasn’t moving. Derrick was the same. I couldn’t see Warren, who was in front of me, but I knew he wasn’t awake.

“I didn’t scream out or anything. I don’t know why I didn’t. I was surrounded by my family who weren’t awake, but I just didn’t.”

By now, Richard was struggling to breathe due to a collapsed lung. He was panicking. But he was brought temporary relief when he heard Warren ask if he was okay.

“He reached back with the arm that wasn’t broken and touched my leg. I knew then that both my legs were broken. I don’t know why or how, but I just knew,” said Richard.

Onlookers approached the car and recognised Yvonne wasn’t moving. They unbelted her, pulled her out and commenced CPR.

Tragically, Warren’s mum, Yvonne lost her life as a result of her injuries.

Richard was taken by road ambulance to St Mary’s Hospital, on the Isle of Wight. However, they soon found he had critical internal injuries, particularly to his intestines, liver and kidneys.

We flew Richard to Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, while Kent Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance and Thames Valley Air Ambulance flew Warren and Derrick to University Hospital Southampton. The bus driver was also airlifted to hospital and 18 others were taken to the local hospital or treated by the Isle of Wight emergency services.

“I remember the noise of the helicopter,” Richard said. “While we were flying, a lady told me to take in the view; I felt so comforted by that.

Richard was placed into an induced coma, to prevent further damage to his organs. When he came out of his coma, he slowly came to terms with the enormity of the accident.

“I thought I was the only one that had survived. I kept thinking, “It’s only me now.’”

Richard held onto those fears for the next few days, as he was too afraid to say it out loud. When he eventually did, the intensive care nurse told him that both Warren and Derrick were alive and in University Hospital Southampton. Warren had been calling to see how he was.

“I was so relieved but also upset – in a good way,” he said.

Richard had a metal rod from his knee to his ankle inserted in both legs, as well as several broken ribs. His internal injuries required surgery and a stoma bag, which he has now had reversal surgery on.

It took him around six months to walk confidently without crutches.

“It’s taken a long time to build up the stamina. And I do get pain from where the rod and the screws are.”

Five years on, Richard, alongside his two sisters-in-law, Michelle and Charlotte are taking part in our Miles for Missions campaign: 100 miles in May. A far cry from his hospital bed in April 2019.

“I don’t think I’m capable of walking 100 miles, so I’m aiming for 64. But we’re all doing it for the same reason. To say thank you for everything the Air Ambulances have done for me and my family.

“So, thank you to everyone who has and is supporting us and the Air Ambulances who were there for us. Our lives have changed completely, but we wouldn’t be here now without them. We owe them everything.”

Go to Richard’s JustGiving page and help make our next mission possible.

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