Hebburn family involved in holiday horror smash reflect on life-changing incident - and thank medics who saved lives

A family whose life changed in a split second after a car crash on the way back from holiday have thanked medics who kept them together.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 11:58 am
The family all survived the incident, thanks to the work of emergency medical teams, including air ambulance crews

Grandparents Paul and Karen Samuels, from Hebburn, and their three grandchildren were thrown into jeopardy when their car collided with a tractor pulling a hay baler on the A1 near Shilbottle, not far from Alnwick, in Northumberland.

Paul, now 66, suffered a traumatic brain injury and shattered bones in his leg and arm, and Karen, now 59, also suffered life-changing injuries – sustaining serious damage to her bowel and chest, as well as losing part of her ear – in the horrendous accident.

The children all needed hospital treatment, and three of the five family members had to be airlifted from the scene.

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Karen and Paul Samuels before the incident

But thanks to the work of the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) and North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) they are still alive today, and have been opening up on the trauma almost two years after the accident.

“We texted everybody saying we were on our way home and would be dropping the kids off, then life just changed,” said Paul.

“There was the initial impact and the realisation of what was happening, and it felt like it happened in slow motion.

“The next thing I remember is being trapped in the car. I just kept asking about the kids, all I could think about was what happened to the kids.”

Debra and Karen, who are taking on a virtual walk to thank GNAAS

Firefighters were scrambled to the scene and cut off the roof of the car to gain better access to the couple, while two aircraft from the GNAAS flew to the scene.

GNAAS’ critical care team worked alongside the NEAS paramedics to assess and treat the family.

Paul and two of the grandchildren – Jayden and Codie – were airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle, while other grandchild George was taken to the same hospital by a NEAS road crew, along with Karon. Samuels.

Karen said the boys had struggled to come to terms with what had happened after the incident.

Paul Samuels just before leaving hospital

“They were sleeping when it happened so it at least made it a little easier,” she added.

“I can’t imagine how scared they would have been if they were awake and saw their grandparents the way we were.

“If it hadn’t been for GNAAS, the police said Paul would never have survived the night. I think the team are amazing and I can’t put into words how brilliant they all are.”

Paul added: “GNAAS are tremendous and I am full of admiration for the people who work there.”

George with his parents

The couple wanted to offer a gesture of thanks in return for the life-saving work of the crews who ensured the family members all survived the incident.

Karen and her friend Debra Rowntree have decided to virtually walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats, which is 878 miles, to raise money for GNAAS.

GNAAS is dependent on donations to survive and has launched a raffle with a top prize of £10,000 to help it meet rising demand for its services.

Tickets cost £1 each and are available now at gna.as/raffle21

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Codie recovering from his broken arms
Codie recovering from his broken arms
Jayden and George before the incident
George, Codie and Jayden
Jayden and Codie in hospital
George in hospital
Paul, Codie, Jayden and George