How a highway crash changed this man's life
THE graze on his left cheek, busted lip and twisted right ankle will heal in time but the emotional scars of a harrowing highway crash will remain with Gavin Bartkowski for a lifetime.
Gavin, 22, was driving with his brother Justin, 24, in the passenger seat when an oncoming car hit his Subaru Forrester head-on in a three-vehicle crash on the Warrego Hwy 15km east of Dalby about 7.50am Sunday.
While the 18-year-old driver of the oncoming car was trapped for an hour, Gavin was freed from his car by his brother before the pair turned to help the critically injured man.
It was a moment Gavin will never forget - the sight of the debris, the impact of the airbags on his face, and the harrowing sound of the collision.
"It was very, very quick," he said.
"It was like a screeching, then a roaring sound, then like an explosion," Gavin said.
"Everything under the dash was pinning my legs into the foot area of the car.
"My brother (Justin), relatively unscathed with a few bruises, helped free my legs and we had to remove my shoes to get my foot out."
Gavin called 000 while limping across to the other car and after hearing the injured man grunt, started yelling for someone to start first aid.
"It was very, very confronting," he said.
While Justin crawled in beside the man, Gavin passed him the phone to be guided by the ambulance medical dispatcher before an off-duty nurse arrived on scene and helped the pair and growing crowd of bystanders.
RACQ LifeFlight's critical care doctor intubated the man at the scene before he was airlifted to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in a critical condition.
The man is believed to be in an induced coma and remains in the intensive care unit.
While investigations into the crash are continuing, Gavin said his life changed from the moment of impact and had shared his story to raise awareness of how swiftly things can change.
He thanked the responding emergency services - some of which were friends known through his work - and a woman whose name he believed was Trish from Cecil Plains.
He said 'Trish' was a great comfort at the scene until paramedics arrived.