'Lucky to be alive' - dad-of-three relives near-death crash horror
A father-of-three has said he is "lucky to be alive" after revealing how a severe crash left him trapped in his car in a ditch.
Police community support officer (PCSO) Jack Mahoney had set out for work from his home in Hadleigh at 6.30am when he was involved in a nasty crash with another car on the B1070, just outside the Suffolk town.
Dazed, the Bexley PCSO called his wife Emma – who thought he was phoning because he had forgotten his lunch – to say he had been in a crash before his mobile cut out.
Fearing her husband might be fighting for his life, Mrs Mahoney gathered the couple’s three young children and told them: “Get in the car, we’ve got to go and find daddy.”
Wearing a dressing gown and flip flops, she followed a fire service vehicle she had spotted with blue flashing lights and was on the scene, between Layham and Raydon, within minutes.
She parked behind the fire service vehicle and told her three sons – Sean, aged two, and George and Mark, both aged eight – to stay inside, thinking: “I can’t let the kids see this.”
The 33-year-old said: “I then ran up the road to the car and knocked on the passenger door, thinking: ‘Is he even alive?’
“Looking at the car, I thought: ‘I don’t even know what state he’s in.’ I was petrified.”
Mrs Mahoney could only then watch helplessly as police, fire and ambulance crews rapidly arrived on the scene to conduct a slick operation to remove her husband from the wreckage of their silver Citroen Xsara Picasso.
Having put a collar round his neck to keep Mr Mahoney still, they used cutting equipment to remove the boot, doors and then the roof to extract him safely from the vehicle.
Mr Mahoney was taken to Ipswich Hospital after the accident on Tuesday, November 20.
Miraculously, it was discovered the 36-year-old had escaped with no broken bones but had suffered severe whiplash.
He was released from hospital later that morning but will be off work until at least December 10, with doctors saying it will take between two and six weeks to fully recover.
However Mr Mahoney said: “I’m definitely lucky to be alive. It could have gone totally the other way.
“It could’ve been fatal straight away on impact.
“Looking back, I’m grateful because it could’ve been a lot worse.”
Mr Mahoney described how he felt a “bang” on impact, adding: “I was in a ditch and it sunk in that: ‘Oh my god, I’ve been in a crash.’
“I went to undo my seatbelt and I felt all this pain down my neck and I thought: ‘I can’t move at all.’
“The driver’s door was jammed and I was stuck in the car. I was dazed because it felt like the airbag had punched me in the face.”
However both he and his wife are full of praise for the emergency services, who they said acted heroically and at speed to rescue Mr Mahoney from the wreckage.
“I was amazed by the response time,” said Mr Mahoney, who works for the Metropolitan Police Service in London.
“In London it can be pretty quick but for all those fire engines, the ambulance and police to get there in that time was pretty quick.
“They were all working so well together. You’d have thought they were one team, not separate emergency services.
“It was almost like when you see a well-drilled training exercise on television. It was so professional and I was so impressed.
“I’m so grateful to them working so quickly to get me out. It has limited the injuries I sustained. If I’d been sitting in that position any longer, it could’ve been a lot worse.
“I’m just grateful to all the emergency services that turned up. I take my hat off to them.”
Mrs Mahoney added: “I was petrified as I watched Jack in the car, not knowing what was going on.
“They all just got on with it. They were absolutely incredible. I can’t thank them enough. They literally were amazing.”
She added that the emergency crews’ conduct was “perfect”, even to the point where they gave her blankets to keep her warm while she stood outside.
“Looking at the car and knowing the impact, he should’ve been more injured than he was,” she said.
The B1070 was closed while fire crews from Hadleigh and Princes Street, Ipswich dealt with the incident, with one lane opened at 8am and the incident cleared by 9.15am.