When Jofe Graham-Jenkins hadn’t arrived home by 7.40pm on September 6 last year, his wife Lorna knew something was wrong.
The 51-year-old was always incredibly punctual and courteous if he was going to be late home from work. It wasn’t until two-and-a-half hours later that her worst fears were realised. Jofe had been involved in a very serious motor vehicle accident near Moranbah and was now fighting for life in Townsville hospital.
Jofe, who is surveyor, had been driving along the Moranbah Access Road on September 6, headed for home in Mackay when his Holden Combo van collided with a stationary vehicle turning right. His small van ran off the road and rolled just after 5pm. Two other vehicles were also involved in the horrific smash, fortunately, the drivers suffering only minor injuries.
Jofe though was knocked unconscious and trapped in the crumpled wreckage of the car for 50 minutes before finally being cut free by emergency service crews. His condition was very serious.
He had rung his wife only five minutes before the accident to say he was on his way home.
“I have no memory of the accident or afterwards. I woke up in Townsville hospital. My wife didn’t find out about the accident until 20 minutes after I arrived at the hospital after being airlifted from Moranbah by the rescue helicopter,” he said.
RACQ CQ Rescue was tasked to the motor vehicle accident at 5.50pm and arrived at the Moranbah Airport, only 1.5km from the accident scene, just before 6.30pm.
The rescue helicopter didn’t depart with Jofe on board until 8.15pm as crews worked to extricate him from the car and stabilize the seriously injured patient for the mercy flight to Townsville. Due to identification issues, his wife wasn’t formally notified of the accident by police until 2.5 hours after he was due to arrive home. His life hung in the balance.
Jofe’s injuries were life-threatening and included a serious brain bleed, severe lacerations to his face, cheek and chin, two broken ribs, a shattered right leg above the knee and fractures below his right and left knees. He spent three days in the Intensive Care Unit and three weeks in Townsville hospital undergoing various surgeries including having a steel rod inserted from his right hip to his knee.
Jofe admits it may just be a blessing he has no memory of the accident or his transfer to hospital but admits he is very traumatized not knowing how the accident actually happened. He prides himself on his attitude to safety and carefulness on the roads.
“I’m really incredibly lucky to be alive. The van is still in the police yard in Moranbah – it’s a mess. I just don’t understand how this accident could have happened, even the police can’t work it out,” he said.
One silver lining of his near-death experience is his renewed appreciation for the support and generosity of the community, particularly his family and friends both here in and in New Zealand, who rallied behind him, his wife and their two daughters, aged 4 and 7.
“It reaffirms what I already knew – that people are inherently good. We’ve been overwhelmed by love and support.”
Jofe returned to work on January 7 this year but his rehabilitation is still ongoing. He has no doubt that the rescue helicopter was the difference between life and death for him on that fateful day of the accident.
“I really owe my life to CQ Rescue and to receive that get well card from them really meant so much to me,” he said.
“You can tell it’s not just a job, these people really care and their professionalism is just amazing.
“I didn’t need to have an accident to be aware of the incredible job all the emergency services do. They really are just magic and my family will forever be grateful to them.”