‘Thanks for saving my life’

Helen Helen McMenamin-Smith ANL-140311-161814001
Helen Helen McMenamin-Smith ANL-140311-161814001

A Burwell woman pulled from the wreckage of a blazing car has thanked an RAF lieutenant, his trainee doctor wife and a passing commuter, for saving her life.

Fifty-two-year-old Helen McMenamin-Smith was driving home along Branch Bank, Prickwillow, in May last year when her white VW estate was involved in a collision with a motorbike which ended up on the car’s roof causing it to cave in on Helen’s head.

Her car then flipped over and ended up at the side of the road. Tragically, the motorcyclist died on impact, and Helen was left clinging to life by a thread.

She had suffered life threatening skull fractures, together with severe brain, spine and eye injuries and, as her car started to burn, she was trapped inside.

Traffic soon started to build up around the scene and sitting in their vehicle five cars back from the smash were Chris and Nicki Pearson. Both are RAF flight lieutenants who were on leave that afternoon and were on their way to the local pub.

They went to see what was going on only to see smoke start bellowing from Helen’s car and find themselves the heroes at the heart of a roadside rescue together with commuter Alan Chapman who also happened to be driving past and ran to offer help.

Nikki Pearson, who was training to be an RAF doctor at the time, helped to keep Helen warm and her neck straight while preventing 
her from choking on her own blood.

A year and five months later, Helen has made a miraculous recovery but said she believed she would have died had it not been for the efforts of a group of strangers who had come to her aid that fateful day.

On Thursday, to mark the amazing work of all involved, Helen was joined by her husband John and their daughter Alyxandra, as they met Flt Lt Pearson and Mr Chapman.

The family also also met Magpas Helimedix doctor, Wayne Kark, someone Helen couldn’t remember at all as she can’t recall anything about the accident.

“I have had a fantastic day, I feel tremendously lucky to be alive and it was overwhelming to meet the people who saved my life,” said Helen, following the reunion at the Magpas Helimedix 
operations base in Huntingdon.

“That is exactly what they did. Their instinct kicked in and they cared for me until the Magpas team and the other emergency services arrived.

“Without them, I know I wouldn’t be here today.”