Life goes on
Firefighter recovers from horrific crash
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.