Deepwater engineer assists car crash victims
Deepwater EU Ltd.’s Assistant Project Engineer Joel Evans was about 15 miles northeast of London on December 11 while driving to an offshore assignment when he witnessed a multi-vehicle accident just ahead of him. He immediately pulled over to help the people involved. Having completed a five-day wind farm first aid course as part of his Deepwater training, he used his knowledge to aid and comfort the injured until paramedics arrived. Joel’s Deepwater colleagues are proud of his caring and considerate actions that evening. Here’s the story in his own words:
On Tuesday 11th December, I left the Elstead office at 12:00hrs and, while driving up to Wells-Next-The-Sea near King’s Lynn on the Norfolk coast to conduct some offshore work for Statoil on the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, a crash involving seven vehicles occurred just in front of me. This was on the M25 just before the junction onto the M11. I had moved into the inside lane in order to join the M11. It was already dark at this time, with heavy fog surrounding the motorway. Traffic was moving around 50 mph, with drops in speed due to fairly heavy traffic and very low visibility.
At approximately 16:00hrs, immediately in front of me, an articulated lorry put on its brakes suddenly and heavily, causing it to lose some control and making the trailer begin to jack-knife slightly. Ahead of the lorry I saw a large amount of debris fly out, and a blue van swerved out of the lane of traffic onto the hard shoulder and mounted the Armaco barrier before coming to rest on the hard shoulder again. By this time, I had come to a complete stop in my lane with all other traffic stopped safely also. I did not hit anything and nothing hit my vehicle. No cars behind me were involved in any further crashes.
Once all vehicles had stopped moving, I pulled out into the next lane and drove slowly past the accident. The accident was split, with four vehicles together and a further three vehicles in a group with roughly 50 metres between the two sets of vehicles. I pulled over to the hard shoulder in this 50 metre gap in order to check that everyone was OK, as I have offshore-specified first aid training. I first went to check on the four vehicles at the back, as these seemed to be the most heavily damaged. The articulated lorry at the back appeared to have hit a Vauxhall Combi van (shown in photo), which had in turn been pushed into a Mercedes Vito van and then on into another lorry. The articulated lorry had swerved slightly during the crash, ending up slightly in the hard shoulder and causing the Vauxhall van to spin 180 degrees.
I went to the Vauxhall van first, as this was the most seriously damaged. When I got there, the engine was still running so I turned it off, as the engine bay had been damaged and the fuel tank had ruptured. The ground surrounding the van was covered in diesel. The driver was conscious but had no recollection of what had happened or where he was. He had some light injuries to his face, but was moving inside the cab in some distress and did not appear to be injured anywhere else. The cabin had been severely damaged in the crash and he was in some discomfort, as well as being distressed due to his memory loss and the smell of diesel. He wanted to get out of the van as quickly as possible. I had been joined by another lorry driver who had witnessed but not been involved in the crash, and we both advised the injured driver to stay in the van. However, he insisted on getting out, which he managed to do on his own. The man was still unable to remember where he was for more than a minute at a time, and he was very badly shaken up and going into shock. I made sure he sat in the cab of our Deepwater van and sat with him and spoke with him a little to put him at ease before leaving him, as I had not yet checked on the other vehicles’ drivers.
The driver of the articulated lorry had got out and was uninjured; the driver of the Mercedes Vito was conscious and not seriously injured, but stayed in his van in case there was any unnoticed spinal injury. The driver of the other lorry had injured his back and was lying across the seats in the lorry cab but was not bleeding. I did not need to check on the drivers of the three vehicles at the front of the accident, as other people had stopped to help. I continued to check on the driver of the Vauxhall van who was still sitting in my vehicle and spoke with him at length.
After approximately 15-20 minutes, the fire brigade arrived first and started inspecting the scene and providing first aid. The driver of the Vauxhall van was assessed first due to the damage to his vehicle and his head injuries. He had a neck brace put on and was treated for shock. The ambulance arrived later (all emergency services were slightly delayed due to a crash on the M11) and checked on all injured people. The driver of the Vauxhall van was deemed by them not to be in risk of any back injury and was allowed to get out of the cab of the Deepwater van. The officer in charge of the fire brigade had advised me that if they couldn’t move him, and depending on the severity of his injuries, they may need to cut the roof off the Deepwater van.
I was asked to wait until the police took my statement, which I did and then left. According to the police officer who told me I could leave, they had established that the driver of the articulated lorry was at fault and that they would only contact me if they needed any additional information.
I continued on my journey to Wells and arrived at my hotel at 20:30hrs. The following morning our vessel left port at 05:30hrs