A303 Dual It! Vain battle to save heart attack victim
Dualling the A303 will mean it will be separated by a central reservation, which many believe will help save lives. Reporter Claire Smyth spoke with one motorist who witnessed how a natural crash barrier can minimise the loss of life...
Not all crashes are caused by irresponsible driver behaviour as 37-year-old Gillingham man Paul Winter knows too well.
He was one of two people to stop at the scene of a crash involving a car that had been travelling on the A303.
The driver had suffered a massive heart attack while travelling eastbound along a dualled section of the road near Wincanton.
A woman driving behind saw the car veer off to the left before crashing through a hedge, crossing the road Mr Winter was on – which runs parallel to the A303 – and into a second hedge.
The two witnesses spent the next hour performing CPR on the man, while waiting for the emergency services to arrive.
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, Mr Winter and the other motorist could not save the man and he was dead by the time the fire and ambulance crews arrived.
But the fact no one else was injured or killed in the crash shows how barriers – such as a central reservation or hedge along the road – can help save lives, Mr Winter said.
He said: “It could have been so much worse. Anything could have happened. He could have gone into another family’s car or even hit someone who was walking. He went through two barriers as it was.
“If he had been a little bit further down the road towards Wincanton, there’s a good chance he would have gone into a housing estate or some kind of populated area.
“This is why I totally agree with the Western Gazette’s campaign – it could help to save lives.”
Mr Winter took it in turns with the woman to perform CPR and speak with the emergency services.
He said: “The emergency services said to get him out of the car so we could perform CPR. He was about 19 stone so it wasn’t easy. The lady started CPR while I took the phone and tried to direct the emergency services to where we were.
“I didn’t know exactly but I knew roughly. They were literally looking for a hole in the hedge on the side of the A303. The emergency services went past but they couldn’t see us.
“I took over from the lady after about 15 minutes and I was doing CPR for about 45 minutes. We couldn’t get the emergency services to where we were. I could see a farm so the lady went running across the fields to try and get a post code or something. I continued with the CPR on my own.
“Physically I was knackered. And I couldn’t help but look at the guy’s finger to see if he was wearing a wedding ring, if he was a family man.
“I couldn’t help but think about his family. You can’t help but picture yourself there. I would want someone to help me if I was there.”
Mr Winter was given a Royal Humane Society Award for trying to save the man’s life after the crash on October 25, 2011.
He received his award from former Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police Colin Port at a special ceremony in Portishead last month.
He added: “It’s affected me quite badly. We did what they told us on the phone which was one breath to begin with then CPR the rest of the time.
“I’m still cut up about it. It’s over a year now since it happened. It’s just not a nice thing to see.
“The police rang me and said they were nominating me for an award because of the length of time we were giving him CPR.
“They said we went beyond what they expect the public to do.
“I would have been happier if the guy had survived.
“It was an instant reaction for me. I would do the same thing again.”
A303 DUAL IT! CAMPAIGN - INTERACTIVE MAP
Our interactive map shows details of crashes dealt with by emergency services on the Somerset stretch of the A303 between 2006 and 2011. Data is from the Department of Transport.
Find your way around our interactive map using the navigation controls (top left of the map) or your mouse to scroll, or zoom in or out.
Click on the individual pins for details of each crash including date, time, conditions, number of vehicles involved and severity of injuries.
Red pins mark fatal collisions, yellow pins show collisions involving serious injury and blue pins show collisions with slight injury.
PRINT OUT OR DOWNLOAD YOUR A303 DUAL IT! PETITION
Click here to open our A303 Dual It! petition form. You can then save it to your computer, or print it out. Alternatively, fill in our online form below.