Rural road trauma survivor thanks first responders who saved his life

Harold Edwards might not be standing here today if it wasn’t for a quick-thinking friend who noticed a damaged sign on the road side while driving to Ballarat, indicating a crash.

After rocks hit Harold’s windscreen, his car had flown across a steep gully near Cape Clear about 7pm on 20 December 2019. It would be an excruciating 23 hours before he’d be rescued thanks to his friend and efforts of a local farmer.

“Some rocks flicked up due to a truck and hit my car, then the airbags went off. I went through a crossroad and down the gully. I managed to reach my phone to get help but it was a blackspot so there was no phone service,” Mr Edwards said.

“I was trying to wriggle out but my legs were crushed up underneath the front dashboard. I was hoping the car wouldn’t catch fire. It was about 40 degrees that day. I managed to find a bit of water to drink inside the car door. The airbags which came down the side of me provided a bit of a shade.”

The Skipton resident of 40 years was flown to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, where he underwent two surgeries including an above the knee leg amputation. He remained there for about two months, before being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Rehabilitation Centre in Ballarat where he learnt to walk again.

Mr Edwards had suffered broken ribs and received kidney dialysis. He now has a prosthetic leg and ongoing nerve issues throughout his left leg.

“I can’t stand up for too long or do much on the farm anymore. I would have kept working until I was 75. We have between 5-9,000 sheep depending on the time of year. It’s frustrating at times but I’m a lot better off than some people are after an accident. I’m thankful my new prosthetic leg and regular physio has been covered by the TAC,” Mr Edwards said.

“I want to thank my friend and her son for going the back way to Ballarat that day and spotting the damaged sign, as well as the farmer and emergency services who helped me. It’s one thing we learn in the country. If you see skid marks or anything you always stop and have a look. It’s a sign something has gone wrong.”

The 55-year-old farmer is investigating a motor vehicle accident claim with the help of Slater and Gordon Lawyers, to seek compensation for his inability to work with sheep and crops on the 2000-acre property and past and future loss of wages.

Slater and Gordon Sue Emery, who is representing Mr Edwards, said those involved in single vehicle accidents in Victoria had access to entitlements with a motor vehicle accident claim through the Transport Accident Commission’s no-fault insurance scheme.

“Single vehicle accident drivers are eligible for benefits even if no one was at fault. These include cover for medical treatment, income support and potentially an impairment benefit for permanent injury which is a lump sum payment. The cause of these crashes can be a poorly made road, wet conditions, hitting or swerving to avoid livestock or an object or driver fatigue,” Mrs Emery said.

“Even if the collision was due to your own error, after seeking medical help, you should report your accident to the police. The injuries suffered can be life-changing meaning a person can no longer work and significant medical support is needed. There can be time limits for making a motor vehicle accident claim so it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible to find out what your entitlements are.”

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