FOREVER GRATEFUL: Leslie Shipley visited the Marburg Fire Station to thank the officers for saving his life.
FOREVER GRATEFUL: Leslie Shipley visited the Marburg Fire Station to thank the officers for saving his life. Melanie Keyte

Warrego Hwy crash victim reunited with saviours

THE last time Marburg firefighters saw Leslie Shipley, nobody knew whether he was going to live or die.

So seeing the 85-year-old walk into their station last Tuesday afternoon carrying gifts of gratitude was almost like seeing a ghost.

Senior firefighter Daniel Skellern was the second person on the scene when Mr Shipley's car had smashed into another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction along the Warrego Highway on June 27.

"It was a significant impact... debris everywhere," he recalled.

"One vehicle was teetering on a concrete barrier which divided the road, and that driver had already self-extricated."

In the other car, Mr Shipley was unresponsive with a broken neck and wrist, and a punctured lung. He would not wake from his coma until 12 days later.

"I'm just very happy to be able to be here," Mr Shipley said on Tuesday.

"I'm very grateful to these men, and I don't think enough people make the time to contact them again and say 'thank you'.

"I know people say 'Well, that's their job' but how many people could do this job?

"They deserve some thanks."

Mr Skellern said the visit was an emotional one for all the officers involved.

"We do go to some nasty jobs and from my point of view, it's really good to be able to see Les afterwards," he said

"It shows us the best case scenario and shows us what we do does matter."

Area commander Ross Mutzelburg said he was grateful for the "rare experience" and thanked Mr Shipley and his granddaughter Andrea, who had coordinated the reunion for her still-recovering granddad.

"We don't often get to know what happens after you put someone in a helicopter or ambulance," he said.

"To have that person come here into the station makes it all worthwhile."

Ms Shipley was visibly emotional as she thanked the officers over again.

"They saved his life... If I'd been with him, I'd have died," she said.

But the modest firefighters deflected most of her praise and commended the other professionals involved in getting Mr Shipley fast medical help.

"It was a team effort," Mr Skellern said.

"All the ambos, the helicopter crew, even the doctors and nurses at the Princess Alexander - they all do their job and together, we save a life."

Ms Shipley confirmed she and her grandfather would be paying visits to the ambulance crews as well.

"They're next," she said.


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