Young cou­ple ‘re­lieved to be alive’ after hor­ri­fy­ing or­deal

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SAMANTHA DICK sdick@ ne­me­dia.com.au

A YOUNG Wan­garatta cou­ple have told of their hor­ri­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence after the car they were driv­ing veered off a Mt Buf­falo road­side last Satur­day.

Coby Saun­ders and Nick Bell’s camp­ing plans in Abbe­yard came to an abrupt and ter­ri­fy­ing end when their car lost trac­tion around a cor­ner and dove off the moun­tain­side.

Mr Bell, who was driv­ing the car at the time, said he was “com­ing round the right hand cor­ner, keep­ing out wide in case of any on­com­ing traf­fic, when the two pas­sen­ger side wheels slid off the side of the road”.

“The car was half on, half off the road, but as soon as it stopped, the weight of it caused the car to roll,” he told the Wan­garatta Chronicle.

“The win­dow smashed on the first roll, which is why we’ve got all the glass cuts.”

Ms Saun­ders said she was flung out of the pas­sen­ger side win­dow after the car first rolled, how­ever, Nick was trapped be­hind the driv­ing wheel and he didn’t es­cape un­til he was thrown out fur­ther down the moun­tain.

“Nick ended up a few hun­dred me­tres down,” she said.

“I stood up, wiped my swollen face and I was just scream­ing out to him, wait­ing for him to re­ply.

“All our stuff was scat­tered ev­ery­where - the car ended up around 400 me­tres down the moun­tain.”

En­dur­ing se­ri­ous pain, the pair forced them­selves to climb up the steep moun­tain­side on their blood­ied hands and knees.

Scal­ing up to the road they waved down a ute car­ry­ing three peo­ple who helped them.

“We were bleed­ing pretty heav­ily but we were both in shock so we just got to the top as quick as we could,” Mr Bell said.

Ms Saun­ders said a rush of adrenalin was the only way she com­pleted her climb to the top.

“For­tu­nately, Nick’s par­ents were com­ing camp­ing with us but they were too far be­hind us to see the ac­ci­dent so they kept driv­ing past the spot where we veered off the road,” she ex­plained.

She and Mr Bell found Mr Bell’s par­ents and a group of hound hunters, who used a SAT phone to call Triple Zero.

Mr Bell was taken to a Wan­garatta hospi­tal with a bro­ken nose and bloody cuts and bruises, but Ms Saun­ders was not so lucky.

“I’ve got a cracked ver­te­brate in the top of my neck, three cracked ver­te­brates in my lower back, two frac­tured ribs, a punc­tured lung and bruises and scratches,” she said.

“I was flown by he­li­copter to the Royal Mel­bourne Hospi­tal, where I stayed un­til Mon­day be­fore re­turn­ing to Wan­garatta.”

Re­flect­ing on their near-death ex­pe­ri­ence, the cou­ple said they con­sid­ered them­selves “very lucky” to have sur­vived the in­ci­dent.

“It was hor­ri­ble, but we were both happy to be alive, look­ing over the edge at what had hap­pened,” Mr Bell said.

“We were both just re­lieved we were still alive, and we’re very grate­ful to the hound hunters who called Triple Zero.”

PAINFUL: Coby Saun­ders (pic­tured) suf­fered spinal in­juries in the ac­ci­dent.

THANKFUL: Nick Bell (pic­tured) started his re­cov­ery at a Wan­garatta hospi­tal, where he was treated for his in­juries.

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