A man who almost died after getting into a car with a driver who was still over the alcohol limit in the morning has warned others not to make the same mistake.
James Logan, 23, of Barnsley, West Yorkshire, found himself close to death when the driver lost control and crashed moments after setting off at 8:30am.
He was still in the process of fastening his belt when the accident happened, causing him to be thrown from the car, and then trapped under it as it rolled on top of him.
He suffered a fractured spine, a broken collar bone, dislocated shoulder, fractured ribs, crushed sternum, and nerve damage in his neck and back, with doctors telling him that due to the car landing on him, there had been ‘around 101 ways in which he could have died’.
Fortunately for James, due to the accident taking place on a wet day, meaning the ground was soft and ‘spongy’, and thanks to the superb response of emergency services, he survived.
But he knows all could have turned out different, and has agreed to tell his story as part of National Road Safety Week, which aims to raise awareness of road safety and reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the UK’s roads.
It comes as 30 per cent of people questioned in a survey commissioned by Hudgell Solicitors admitted getting into a car driven by someone they believed may be over the limit.
Almost three in 10 drivers nationally admitted driving in the morning fearing they may still be over the limit, whilst almost a quarter of those questioned said they knew someone who regularly drives over the limit.
“I am happy to tell my story in the hope that it makes any others think twice when they are passengers in a car. You have to be in control of your own destiny,” said James, who was supported through his rehabilitation and recovery by Hudgell Solicitors.
“It seems stupid looking back now, but I hadn’t seen the driver drinking after I joined the group at 11pm the night before, as I only joined them after my shift at work. I was aware he had been drinking before I arrived, but I assumed he hadn’t drunk for around eight hours when we all got in the car the next morning,” he said.
“We weren’t going far, and we had only been travelling what seemed like a matter of seconds before he suddenly lost control, and the next thing I knew the car was rolling over in a field. The next thing I can remember was being trapped under the car.
“I knew I had damaged my shoulder, but I didn’t realise the extent of the injuries I had suffered, and how I could easily have died had the car been in a slightly different position. Doctors and paramedics said it had actually been more likely for me to die than survive given the circumstances of the accident.
“There was a ditch just yards from where we finished up, and had we ended up in there with the car on top of me, I would have drowned.
“Because it was winter, and it had been raining heavily, the ground was soft and spongy, and I was told that had saved me. Had it been summer, and a hard ground, I would have been likely to have been crushed and died. I guess I was just very lucky.”
As a result of the accident, which happened on December 19, 2013, James is no longer friends with the driver of the car, who faced prosecution for driving over the legal limit. The driver, and a front seat passenger, escaped without any serious injury.
James still suffers from back and neck pain every day and was also diagnosed with a tremor shaking disorder for which he continues to need treatment. He now wants to warn others not to make the same mistakes he did that day.
“I will certainly never make the same mistakes again. Getting into the car with somebody who has been drinking is ridiculous, as is not taking the seconds it takes to fasten a seat belt,” James added.
“We all have to take responsibility for ourselves when getting into any vehicle, and assessing whether the driver is fit to be at the wheel is something we should all do every time, particularly if we know that person has consumed alcohol that day, or even the night before.
“Thankfully no other vehicle was involved and nobody was killed, but this could easily have resulted in a head-on collision with another car, and the loss of numerous lives.
“For James, it has been a difficult and harsh lesson. He made mistakes we know he will never make again. He was one of the lucky ones in that he survived. We were pleased to be able to secure him compensation and rehabilitation for the pain and suffering he endured in what was a very serious accident.
“Hopefully, by sharing his story, and by revealing the findings of our survey, we’ll make more people think carefully about the decisions they make.”