A YOUNG man left with a disability after being knocked down by a drink-driver has told of how the incident changed his life.
Luke Marshall’s shocking story forms part of Cheshire Police’s campaign to urge motorists not to drink and drive over the festive period.
The 21-year-old was at the receiving end of a drink-drive collision more than a year ago when he was knocked down and badly injured.
The driver was a 40-year-old woman, later found to be more than twice the legal alcohol limit for driving and sentenced for dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol.
Mr Marshall was driving in his car with a friend on the evening of July 15 last year when they were forced to pull over after driving over debris following a collision, when a car crashed into a wall.
The debris punctured his tyres and damaged the bumper. “I went over to the car to check the driver, a young girl, was ok but noticed she was just badly shaken and crying,” Mr Marshall said.
He added: “The guy whose house the car had crashed into came out to see what had happened. I needed to change my wheel and he offered to bring some cones out to pop around my car.”
Mr Marshall walked back down the road, and the man came to bring out the cones.
As this was happening he heard tyres screeching around the corner and then three seconds later, he could see a car approaching on the wrong side of the road and realised it was going to hit him.
“It seemed like ages, but it was probably only two to three seconds in which I had to react,” he added.
“The car was swerving left and right, and just three metres away. I dived onto the wall but my right leg didn’t come with me in time, with the car crushing my leg.”
Mr Marshall said he was lying on the wall thinking ‘I’ve not been hit, it’s missed me’, but after looking down at his leg he realised how badly damaged it was. By this time, the girl’s mum and dad had turned up and they were both doctors.
One of them, a consultant anaesthetist, checked Mr Marshall’s leg. It was virtually amputated at the scene and the doctor applied pressure as it was damaged near the major artery above the knee.
“He saved my life,” he said. “I was losing a lot of blood but didn’t feel in any pain, probably because of the shock I was in.”
Mr Marshall lives with his stepfather, Ian, and his mum, Suzanne, who is terminally ill with motor neurone disease and has found the last year very emotional as “at the time, I wasn’t able to hold him, I couldn’t comfort him”.
Ian said: “We were shocked and angry, because obviously with Suzanne being disabled she couldn’t do anything. When we got the phone call that night, I had to lift Suzanne into the car. We were trying to get down to the scene of the collision, but couldn’t get to him and we didn’t know how bad he was. Suzanne was shaking all the way there and she couldn’t get out of the car because of her disability. We saw them putting him on the stretcher so we thought he must be alright and then we went straight to the hospital.”
Mr Marshall was in intensive care for a time and was “devastated” when he woke in hospital and saw he didn’t have a leg.
“I just thought I had to get on with it, no point moaning about it, it’s not going to grow back,” he said.
Only three months after coming out of hospital, Mr Marshall received an adapted car courtesy of Motability and was fitted with a prosthetic limb.
“I had to learn to walk again, and especially putting your leg on is weird,” he added.
“Trying to walk on it was a strange experience.”
Before that life-changing night, Mr Marshall was quite active and had made plans for his future.
“I had just passed my plumbing course and had my visa for Australia ready to go, but that’s all been put on hold,” he said.
When asking how this had changed his life, Luke said: “It has changed my life in simple ways, I used to love a good kick about and went mountain biking with my mates. I can’t do what I want to do, I can’t do my plumbing now.
“I may go out and service gas boilers, so I don’t have to kneel on the floor. British Gas do take on disabled people so hopefully there will be an opening there.”
Family liaison officer Cath Hilton was on the scene the following day and supported the family through to the final verdict at court. “Obviously the family had a rollercoaster of emotions but they are a close and supportive family and welcomed me into their lives,” she said. “They have dealt with this in a dignified manner and are a credit to themselves.”
Mr Marshall, 19 at the time of the collision, now has a girlfriend and is slowly trying to turn his life around. He was traumatised by the whole ordeal which took place in Lymm, Cheshire, along with the rest of his family. But it will take a series of stepping stones before he will be back to a normal way of life.
Cheshire Police is tweeting drink- drive messages throughout December on social network site Twitter. You can follow these at @cheshirepolice.