Life goes on

Fire­fighter re­cov­ers from hor­rific crash

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Eigh­teen months af­ter he lost his leg in a road ac­ci­dent, for­mer fire­man Blair Mar­riott is ready to get back on his bike.

The 39-year-old Para­pa­raumu man, who spent 15 years in the Porirua and John­sonville fire ser­vice, took de­liv­ery of a Vespa last week, which about sums up his at­ti­tude to­ward the ac­ci­dent which claimed his right leg – life goes on.

On De­cem­ber 3, 2010, Mr Mar­riott was driv­ing his mo­tor­bike at 53 kilo­me­tres an hour in an 80kmh zone on Para­pa­raumu’s Otai­hanga Rd, when 18-year-old learner driver Natalia Berk­land crossed the cen­tre line in a stolen, mod­i­fied, un­war­ranted car, and ploughed straight into him. His leg was torn off on im­pact.

‘‘When I sat up it was ly­ing over there and I thought ‘oh, that doesn’t look good’,’’ Mr Mar­riott says.

The crash also broke his left leg in five places along with his left an­kle and big toe, and smashed both his wrists.

As a fire­fighter Mr Mar­riott knew ex­actly how to han­dle the ac­ci­dent, and kept a cool head.

He got a by­stander to hold a cell­phone to his ear while he rang fi­ancee Al­lana and told her to rush to Welling­ton Hospi­tal.

‘‘I said, I’m sorry but I can’t dance with you at our wed­ding.’’

Doc­tors am­pu­tated a fur­ther six inches from above Mr Mar­riott’s right knee.

‘‘I said if it was go­ing to be use­less get rid of it. There’s no point strug­gling through life with a gammy limb.’’

The cou­ple mar­ried on Fe­bru­ary 22 last year, Mr Mar­riott still in a wheel­chair.

Dur­ing the cer­e­mony he no­ticed

For­mer Porirua fire­fighter Blair Mar­riott is philo­soph­i­cal about los­ing his leg in a road ac­ci­dent 18 months ago. his fire­fighter col­leagues look­ing ner­vously at their cell­phones – Christchurch’s dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake had just struck.

‘‘The worst thing about that was I couldn’t as­sist. I would have vol­un­teered in a heart­beat,’’ Mr Mar­riott says. ‘‘Ev­ery­thing was taken. I miss the guys, I miss the ca­ma­raderie. I miss driv­ing a fire truck too fast.’’

Fif­teen months af­ter the crash Mr Mar­riott started a new job in the Fire Ser­vice’s pay­roll depart­ment. He learned to walk with his ar­ti­fi­cial leg, slowly and painfully, and can do pretty much ev­ery­thing he did be­fore the crash, just more slowly.

Berk­land was dis­qual­i­fied from driv­ing for two years and re­ceived six months’ home de­ten­tion, at night only.

‘‘You can be bit­ter and an­gry about it but what’s the point, you’d just be bit­ter and an­gry,’’ Mr Mar­riott says.

Stay­ing strong:

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