Ex-EADT man survives horror crash

A FORMER East Anglian Daily Times journalist is recovering in hospital after a terrifying high-speed karting crash in the Pyrenees.

Jonathan Barnes

A FORMER East Anglian Daily Times journalist is recovering in hospital after a terrifying high-speed karting crash in the Pyrenees.

Steve Mellen, 35, an award-winning columnist, said he was fortunate not to have suffered more serious injuries in the accident at a mountain resort in Andorra on Friday.

He was airlifted to hospital after crashing into rocks while he descended a go-karting course on a 2,000ft high mountainside.

But doctors said he had not broken any bones or suffered serious damage, although they are carrying out further tests before he can be discharged.

Speaking from his bed at the Hospital Nostra Senyorad de Meritxell in the capital Andorra La Vella last night, Mr Mellen said: "It was a scary experience and I'm glad to have got out of it in one piece."

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He was on a holiday to the principality, in the Pyrenees mountain range, with a group of journalists at the invitation of the Andorran government. The trip was arranged around England's football World Cup qualifier against Andorra on Saturday, which was staged in Barcelona.

"We had been enjoying a number of activities, including a high ropes course and mountain biking," said Mr Mellen.

"The go-karting was on a ski slope on the Gran Valira resort. The karts didn't have motors, they were basically reinforced plastic and wheels that build up speed through gravity and momentum.

"I realised halfway down that my brakes didn't appear to be working properly. I tried to steer my way through it but I was going at an incredible speed - I wouldn't like to guess how fast - and I thought 'it looks like I could be in trouble here'.

"First I crashed into a rock and then I went flying into a ditch filled with rocks. After the impact I couldn't breathe and there was blood everywhere. The first thing anyone knew about it was when the next guy to come down the slope pulled up next to me."

Emergency services were called to the scene and Mr Mellen was flown to hospital by air ambulance, wearing a neck brace and an oxygen mask.

"I was in a bad way. I was going in and out of consciousness but they kept me talking. It was about a five-minute journey to the hospital," he said.

"I was on a trauma ward to begin with and at first the doctors thought I may have some internal bleeding and kidney damage, but they did tests and have ruled out any serious damage. I've got some cuts and bruises."

Mr Mellen said he had been looked after "brilliantly" at the hospital and staff were keen to keep him in until he was fit to fly home, which he hopes to do in the next few days.

"I'm still quite weak at the moment and on a saline drip, but I hope to be back on my feet soon."

Mr Mellen, who was born in Ipswich and grew up in Martlesham, was an acclaimed Ipswich Town columnist and feature writer for the EADT and held the position of assistant sports editor. He now works for the Western Daily Press and Bristol Evening Post.

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