A mechanic has been reunited with the emergency medics who helped save his life after a 100mph car crash on the M1 motorway.
They treated Storm Warner, 22, on the scene – with his car exploding around them as it caught fire – before rushing him to the major trauma centre at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington.
He was transferred to Hammersmith hospital for emergency surgery on his liver – losing 45 per cent of the organ in the crash – and spent almost a month in a coma. Doctors later told him he was “lucky to be alive”.
Mr Warner was reunited with Laura Wallace, Phil Smith, Emily Wallis and Julia Horswell of East of England Ambulance Service after his appeal to find his life-savers was spotted by Ms Wallace’s friend, Susanna Trow, a London Ambulance cycle paramedic, in the Standard last month.
Mr Warner, who believes he fell asleep at the wheel or blacked out, said on meeting them at Hemel Hempstead ambulance station: “I asked everyone: what gift do you bring? How do you thank someone for saving your life? You can’t.
“I appreciate it so much. My family appreciate if even more. It still hasn’t sunk in. My family and friends were devastated. A friend said: ‘I thought you were gone.'”
The crash happened about 1.30am on June 9 last year as Mr Warner drove home to Dunstable after a night out in north London. He has no recollection of the incident near junction eight but has been told that traffic was being diverted into the fast lane as a result of roadworks when he hit the rear of a slow-moving trailer lorry while speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.
Paramedic Ms Wallace, 31, was first on scene in a fast-response car, closely followed by duty officer Mr Smith, 44. They were quickly joined by emergency medical technicians Ms Wallis, 27, and Ms Horswell, 34.
Ms Wallace said she could see the smoke rising from the car as she approached. Two lorry drivers are thought to have pulled Mr Warner from his car, which had collided with the central reservation. He was lying on the road in massive pain with a broken ankle and was “very agitated”.
She said: “There were a number of explosions from the car a couple of minutes later, which I assume was the fuel tank.” Mr Smith said: “Metal flew off into the side of my car.
“It was a chaotic scene. Storm wasn’t being the most cooperative at the time, not surprisingly. You can imagine what his body went through when you see the damage to the vehicle.”
Ms Wallis said they could see the crash on the opposite carriageway as they raced south from Luton. “We saw the fire and thought: ‘Oh my God.'”
They provided intravenous morphine for pain relief and refused to allow him to urinate, correctly fearing this would worsen any internal injuries by reducing his blood pressure. After about 45 minutes on scene, he was blue-lighted to St Mary’s in 40 minutes.
Mr Warner also suffered a punctured lung, a fractured hip, facial injuries and several broken ribs.
The medics said they rarely got to meet patients they helped save.
“We didn’t really know the extent of his injuries at the time,” Ms Wallace said. “It’s fantastic to see I’m doing so well.”
Ms Wallis said: “It’s quite a hazardous situation to be in. The crucial thing was to get him to hospital as quickly as possible.
“To begin with, you do fear the worst. It’s not every day we go to a road traffic accident where the car is still ablaze. It’s something I have not come across before. The adrenaline is going in that situation. I think it is one of the worst I have been to.”
Storm Warner: “I appreciate how lucky I am.”
Mr Warner was discharged after three months and surprised doctors by getting back on his feet, with the aid of crutches, by September.
Earlier this month he did an unaccompanied skydive to raise in excess of £1,000 for Imperial Health charity, which supports the medical care at St Mary’s and Hammersmith hospital.
He said: “I appreciate how lucky I am. I don’t speed any more. It has affected how close I am with my family. I used to be very distant and use the house as a hotel. Now I make more effort to see my parents and my sisters.
“One thing my dad said was: ‘All that National Insurance I have paid has paid off. They said I was having four or five scans a day.”