Axminster crash victim “critical but stable”

Quick acting first-aiders may have saved accident victim’s life

AN elderly woman was critically ill in hospital today (Tuesday) after crashing her car in the centre of Axminster.

Passers-by dragged the unconscious driver from her burning Renault Clio and fought to revive her before emergency services arrived.

Police say their speedy intervention may have saved her life.

It is thought the woman suffered a heart attack before running into a parked, unoccupied, Vauxhall Frontera in Musbury Road at around 1.20pm yesterday..

The victim, understood to be in her sixties, was flown to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Early this morning her condition was said to be “critical but stable”.

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Amongst the first on the scene was trained first-aider Bob Thomas, 58, from Colyton – an instructor with the Motor Sports Association.

He said: “I was following a BMW which was immediately behind the Clio. I heard the crash and saw a bit of the impact and saw the Frontera jump onto the pavement. I immediately dialled 999 because the woman wasn’t moving. Then I saw the car was on fire. I carry two extinguishers because I am a motor sports fire marshal and quickly put the blaze out. Then Terry Barker from the local shoe shop came and together we pulled her out. He and the fireman gave her mouth to mouth and I started CPR.

“The paramedics came very quickly and I continued with CPR while they gave her oxygen. I must say it was hats off to them – they were marvellous, working so smoothly.”

Mr Barker, a member of Axminster St John Ambulance, who runs Shoe Mate in nearby Silver Street said: “I heard the crash and went running around. Mr Thomas and I got her out of the car and then I went back to the shop to get a face mask which I keep in my first aid kit. Axminster firefighter Mike Beviss used it to give her mouth to mouth before the paramedics arrived to take over.

“I overheard someone say they saw her slump at the wheel before the crash so I assume she had heart had heart attack and then crashed, but we don’t know.”

Police have not released the victim or said where she lives, although it is understood she may come from the Exeter area.

Emergency services raced to the town after the crash and the area was sealed while the air ambulance landed in a garden near the Coombe Lane car park.

A Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service spokesman confirmed a crew from Axminster had attended.

He said: “One female casualty was removed from a vehicle by Ambulance crews and was receiving CPR prior to the arrival of the Fire Service.

“Fire crews made both vehicles safe and left the incident in the hands of Ambulance, Air Ambulance and the police.”

Later police issued a statement saying the driver of the Clio may have had “a medical episode” before the collision. The Vauxhall was parked and unattended at the time of the crash.

Any witnesses are asked to call the police on 08452 777444.