With a partner and two-day-old daughter happily tucked up at Gisborne Hospital, Ben was looking forward to an uneventful day. However, on an isolated stretch of road between Tolaga Bay and the port his fully laden truck collided with a truck coming from the other direction.
“Some people say they have a sense that something’s going to happen. Not me. I was just taking my time and going through my regular routine,” says Ben.
Recovering at home, Ben describes the accident as nightmarish. He remembers everything. Seeing the other driver at the wheel, the impact… the way it sounded, the way the truck rolled.
“I must have been knocked out, but I remember coming-to and thinking it was a dream. I panicked because I thought I was late for work… then I realised I was in the wreck of the cab, there was glass everywhere.
“I thought I was Ok so my first instinct was to check on the other driver. It wasn’t till I tried to get out of the cab that I realised I was trapped and quite seriously injured,” Ben said.
Fading in and out of consciousness Ben was aware of neighbouring residents and other truck drivers helping at the scene. He remembers the arrival of the fire and ambulance services and waiting for the ECT Rescue Helicopter with the advanced paramedics.
“I thought it would take ages for them to arrive, but the chopper was there in no time.
“I remember the take-off being freaky; I was really scared and didn’t know whether I was going to survive. But before I knew it I was in Gisborne and rushed straight into ED.”
Ben sustained serious knee, pelvic and chest injuries in the accident. Initially treated in Gisborne he was then flown to Auckland for critical specialist care.
In hospital, Ben says, he asked repeatedly about the other driver.
“I was devastated when eventually told he had passed away at the scene.”
A battered and emotionally scarred Ben struggles to share his story, but believes his accident should serve as a reminder to all about the need for our ECT Rescue Helicopter.
“Without the medics in that chopper I would have been buggered. I was amazed at how fast and on-to-it they were. The accident scene was awful, to me it was amazing how calm and professional they remained. It’s true what they say – you never know when you’ll need it.”
“I have a lot of people to thank. The support from my family and the team at Pacific Haulage has been amazing and I’m lucky that I’ll get to go back to the work I love. This is also a great opportunity for me to thank, once again, the Eastland Rescue Helicopter Trust.”