Driver thanks on-call crews for rescue from near fatal crash

Pictured left to right: Firefighter Robin Mann, Firefighter Louise Retel-Gould, Firefighter Allan Plim, Firefighter Sarah Cartwright, Firefighter Mark Talbot and Watch Manager Mark Smith

Young adult, survives near-fatal injuries after accident on *one of the most dangerous roads in the UK.

  • 22-year-old male driver allegedly lost control of vehicle due to mud on the A53 between Loggerheads and Market Drayton

  • The driver faced 14 hours of surgery and walked out of hospital on his 22nd birthday, just 10 days after the accident

  • Driver was a well-known member of the community to the on-call crew that rescued him

A Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service on-call crew were thanked this week by a young male driver who survived a near-fatal accident in Market Drayton.

Tom Clay, 22, was driving home from a friend’s house, on Saturday, 7 November when his vehicle hit a patch of mud on a stretch of the A53 between Loggerheads and Market Drayton.

Tom lost control of the vehicle after his wheel collided with the curb and exploded, causing it to veer up an embankment and then roll numerous times before coming to a standstill.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue’s Market Drayton on-call crew worked with Staffordshire fire service’s Loggerheads station, West Midland Ambulance and the Medical Emergency Response Intervention Team (MERIT). 

It quickly became apparent that the casualty was well-known to the Market Drayton team due to regular interactions with him at Morrison’s petrol station where he is employed.

On-call fire fighter Louise Retel-Gould was first to tend to Tom at the scene. He was later confirmed to have sustained injuries including a broken spine, neck, sternum, arm and eye socket as well as deep lacerations to his face and head caused debris from the rolling vehicle.

Mark Smith, Watch Manager at Market Drayton on-call fire station said: “Almost 30 per cent of all road traffic collisions in Shropshire in 2019 resulted in death or serious injury and around 45 of these involved someone aged between 16-25.

“In Tom’s case, as a relatively new driver he wouldn’t have had much experience driving in winter conditions. Mud on the road is a real danger and can change the way vehicles handle, causing skidding, especially in wet or freezing conditions.

“Mud can be just as slippery as ice particularly on rural roads like the A53. Although roads have speed limits, it’s important to drive to the conditions rather than the speed limt, something Tom has had first-hand experience of. It really is a miracle not only that he is alive but also this he is recovering so well from the accident.”

After 14 hours of treatment including orthopaedic, spinal and facial specialists at the Royal Stoke Hospital, Tom miraculously walked out of the hospital, just 10 days later on his 22nd birthday.

Mr Clay said: “I wanted to thank the crews from Shropshire and Loggerheads personally for helping me. If it wasn’t for their quick response who knows where I’d be now.

“I knew I was in safe hands when I saw Louise, the on-call teams did a fantastic job caring for me – I really knew I would be okay when I recognised the rest of the crew.

“I was driving home like I’ve done before, just like any other night from my friend’s house when the back end of the car skidded out behind me.

“I blacked out when the car was rolling and when I came to, I could just make out Louise through the blood in my eyes.

“It all happened so quickly and know I’m lucky to be alive. It just goes to show that no matter how familiar the roads are, you always need to keep an eye on conditions. It might be the same road, but you can’t always drive in the same way.

Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton said: “This incident highlights the importance of our on-call stations and having teams ready to respond and be at the scene within minutes.

“The crew should be very proud of the difference they make in their communities, showing that being on the scene quickly with a professional and well-equipped team can potentially mean the difference between life and death.”

*According to a report by the Road Safety Foundation, the A53 is one of the most dangerous roads in the UK with numerous accidents reported on the stretch where Mr Clay lost control.

For further details around road safety please visit the website and If you’re interested in becoming an on-call firefighter, there’s lots more information online 

Alternatively, pop along your local station on drill nights to meet the team and find out more - book ahead by emailing who will advise on COVID-19 restrictions.

9th December, 2020