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Car Crash Survivor Reunites with CareFlight Doc

In an emotional reunion, Murwillumbah local Darren Phillip met up with the RACQ CareFlight Rescue doctor who came to his aid following a horror crash that left him critically injured and fighting for his life. Today’s reunion at CareFlight’s Gold Coast base was the first time he had seen the doctor since the crash. 

The reunion filled in some blanks for the father of three who up until now relied on pictures of a mangled wreckage resting beside cane fields as the only reference to the moment when his life changed in an instant.

The 37-year-old was heading home from a night shift along a quiet road near his home on 11 July last year when he was involved in a head-on collision with a four-wheel drive.                             

Trapped in crumpled steel, and bleeding from a severed artery in his tongue, RACQ CareFlight Rescue was urgently tasked to the scene.

Aircrewman, Ryan Purchase was on duty that day and described the scene as horrific.

“Seeing the wreckage, it’s incredible we had a patient to treat that day as the car was completely unrecognisable,” he said.

CareFlight’s Critical Care Doctor, Hayley Frieslich and QAS paramedic Jay Newton acted quickly to stabilise Darren so he could be safely transported to the nearest trauma centre.

“Darren had blood pooling in the back of his throat and had suffered some of the worst facial injuries I have seen,” Dr Frieslich said.

“This was affecting his ability to swallow and keep his airways clear.

“In the state we found him, his condition could very quickly become life threatening.”

Darren remained in an induced coma in intensive care for two weeks and spent a further two months in intensive rehabilitation.

“I had two broken arms, a broken leg, ankle, pelvis, upper and lower jaw, a fractured skull, lacerated tongue and liver, a collapsed lung, brain and spinal injuries and numerous abrasions,” he said.

His doctors at the Gold Coast University Hospital told Darren he survived some of the worst injuries they had ever seen. 

Meanwhile news had spread among Murwillumbah’s tight-knit community from the crash scene that Darren had not pulled through the ordeal.

Ten months on from his accident, he still gets bewildered locals stop him in the street.

“I’ll be walking down the street and people will say, Hey! I thought you died!” Darren said.

Still rehabilitating,  Darren is yet to return to work.

He still has a minimum of six months before he will be able to, but his life is slowly getting back to normal.

Caring for his three kids aged between two and 11 and getting on with life as he does now, it’s hard to believe that Darren ever endured such a harrowing experience. 

While still on the long road to a full recovery, he is extremely thankful for CareFlight’s involvement that day.

“With the amount of blood I lost, I am certain I wouldn’t be alive today if I had to make the journey to hospital by road,” he said.

“I’ve known of CareFlight for a long time because we have a few of their bears.

“I never thought I’d need them like that. I know for sure without them I wouldn’t be here.”