League star alive after crash
PINNED upside down in mangled wreckage with his right leg in the air, Alan Rothery opened his eyes to find himself covered in glass and blood.
Trapped by the steering wheel as he lay helpless in his crushed semi-trailer cabin on top of a tree the truck had just wiped out, the bruised and battered Central Comets rugby league enforcer began calling for help.
As smoke rose and fuel leaked from the wreck, the dangerous goods driver clenched his fist and punched the horn again and again until help arrived in the form of an elderly couple.
With emergency services crews on their way to the site, the elderly woman said a prayer for the injured father of two, who could not wait to see the faces of loved ones again, especially daughters, Britney, 5, and Montana, 4.
Trapped for almost three hours as ambulance officers picked spiders off his body and scared away snakes, he was finally cut free by firefighters and rushed to Rockhampton Hospital where up to 12 family members waited anxiously.
Still shaken, Alan yesterday relived the terrifying moment his semi-trailer hit a tree and rolled into a ditch 1km south of Dululu on the Burnett Highway on Thursday.
The former Canberra Raiders NRL player, who remains in a stable condition ,but still has no feeling in his right leg due to nerve damage, said he was lucky to be alive.
“I just swerved around an animal on the road and I couldn't get back to the road,” the 28-year-old recalled.
“As I was turning so hard to the right, the road tapered off to the left and (the truck) just rolled onto its side and skipped.
“It happened in a matter of seconds.
"I'm on the road one second and next second I'm yelling out for help because my legs were pinned.
“I was lying in glass and all I could do was yell out for help and beep the horn.
“The horn was right in front of me because the steering wheel pinned me.
“Then an older lady and her husband came and thankfully they had already rung the police and ambulance and she said a little prayer for me.
“The worst part was my leg was up in the air and all the blood was rushing out of it and that's what is wrong with it now – it feels like the blood won't go back to it.
“There was just a mangled mess around me and I thought I was gone because it happened so fast.
"But when I realised I was all right, I was moving my fingers and toes, I thought to myself if all I am is stuck I'm a lucky man,” he said.
“I'm truly thankful.”
Alan said the crane on his semi-trailer had saved his life, acting like a roll bar as the wreckage disintegrated around him.
“When I looked up I was semi upside down and I looked at the front wheel and it was still spinning,” he said.
“There was a tree I was lying on, a big one I knocked over.
“Everything was still smoking and making noise.
“I was facing scrub, I couldn't see the road, and then the ambos sedated me and I don't remember anything from then. I just woke up in the hospital getting an X-ray on my neck.
“Apparently there was just grass under me and the ambo was saying she was picking spiders off my body and there were snakes in the grass.
“I'm glad I didn't hear that last night when we got back (to the hospital), I would have flipped out.”
Alan said the prospect of being reunited with his two daughters, partner and family members kept him determined to survive the long ordeal.
“That's all I could think of and to have them (at the hospital) waiting for me,” he said.
“I didn't want my daughters to see me how I looked last night, but just to see them ... they understood daddy was okay so they were happy.
“Just to get out and see my whole family again, I couldn't wait.”
Alan's brothers, Clint and Craig, and partner, Maria, arrived at the site while mum Julie drove from Brisbane after hearing the news.
“They had a bad feeling when they arrived because there was a tarp up and that usually means bad news, so they flipped out a bit but everything was all right,” Alan said.