Gallery: Otley crash victim tries to find hero who saved his life
A teenage driver who says he was rescued from certain death by an unknown hero wants to identify the man who he didn’t get to thank properly.
Austin Squirrell was driving home to Aldringham from Epsom in Surrey on Friday, December 6, where he’d been looking around a prospective university with his friends.
After dropping off a friend in Stowmarket he was making his way along the B1078 near Otley when he came round a bend and a deer ran in front of his car.
“I swerved to miss it and hit a slippery patch on the road and completely lost control,” said Austin, whose been driving for just over a year. “Then my car hit a fence and went up it and flipped down into a ditch and started to fill up with water and diesel.
“Honestly I thought I was going to die.”
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Austin was trapped in the car in the dark as water from the ditch in which he had landed poured in, the doors were jammed closed and Austin had no signal on his mobile phone.
“I literally just sat in my car while the water poured in, I don’t know how long it was,” he said.
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A woman who saw Austin’s lights stopped by the roadside and stayed with him before flagging down the man who would save Austin’s life.
“A woman found me and she managed to flag down the man who jumped into the ditch and pulled me out through the boot.”
After Austin had spent between 10 and 15 minutes in the car, the man had come on the scene, jumped into the water in the dark, smashed away the remaining glass in the car’s back window, removed the head rests from the seats and pulled Austin through the boot and out of the car.
Afterwards the man joked to Austin: “You’re probably the luckiest person I have met, can you give me some lottery numbers quickly?”
Both the man and woman stayed with Austin until the emergency services arrived about 20 minutes later, when police told Austin’s rescuer he was free to go.
“When I was in my car I thought that was it, I was going to die,” said Austin. “He saved me because by the time the police got there the water was covering the line of the windows.”
Although Austin thanked both the man and woman at the scene following his rescue, he and his mother Karen feel they haven’t had the chance to fully express their appreciation.
Now they want to identify the man who proved the difference between life and death for Austin on that fateful night.