Maria Felton was honoured with a bravery award after trying to assist during a car crash at Lower South Gate.
Maria Felton was honoured with a bravery award after trying to assist during a car crash at Lower South Gate. Jenna Thompson

Bravery award for quick thinking at fatal crash scene

HOW would you react if you were the only person to arrive at a horrific crash scene?

It's a question none of us wants to ever have to answer, but one Maria Felton faced on Lawrence Rd on her way to work on October 30, 2013.

She phoned 000 before rushing over to assist a young man trapped in a ute.

"It felt like hours. It felt like there was no one else on the planet. It was so quiet," Ms Felton recalled.

For her efforts, Ms Felton has received a Commendation for Brave Conduct from the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove.

EVERY day on her drive to work, Maria Felton is reminded of October 30, 2013.

That day began like any other, but on her way to work from Lower Southgate to Grafton, Ms Felton came across a head-on collision between a car and a ute on Lawrence Rd.

Smoke was coming from the mangled car, and the flames were rising.

Without thinking, Ms Felton stopped and called 000 before she rushed over to the ute to try to rescue the trapped driver.

"It felt like (I was there for) hours," she said.

"It felt like there was no one else on the planet, it was so quiet. I thought someone from one of the houses would come out but there was no-one, it seemed to go on forever."

 

BRAVE CONDUCT: Maria Felton was honoured to receive a Commendation for Brave Conduct for assisting a trapped driver involved in a car crash. INSET: The fatal collision on Lawrence Rd at Lower Southgate on October 30, 2013.
BRAVE CONDUCT: Maria Felton was honoured to receive a Commendation for Brave Conduct for assisting a trapped driver involved in a car crash. INSET: The fatal collision on Lawrence Rd at Lower Southgate on October 30, 2013. Jenna Thompson

Ms Felton struggled to drag the young male driver from the ute.

The doors were so damaged they would not open, and Ms Felton tried to pull the driver through the broken window. Another motorist stopped at the scene and urged her to get away from the vehicles because the burning car was about to explode.

Ignoring his warnings of the danger, Ms Felton yelled at the other motorist to help her drag the man from the ute.

"I called out to the other cars that had stopped and another man came and helped me get the driver out," Ms Felton said.

"We managed to get him out the window and the other car just blew up really quickly in a great big fireball."

Ms Felton helped save Reece Campbell's life that day, but a woman aged in her 20s died at the scene.

For her actions on that day almost five years ago, Ms Felton has received a Commendation for Brave Conduct from the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove.

 

A young woman died in a head-on collision on the Lawrence Rd at Lower Southgate on October 30, 2013.
A young woman died in a head-on collision on the Lawrence Rd at Lower Southgate on October 30, 2013. The Daily Examiner

While Ms Felton said it was an honour receive the award, she was reminded of the great sadness of the woman who died.

"I feel a bit awkward accepting the award because of that," she said.

"There is a little memorial for the young lady that passed away on Lawrence Rd where the accident was.

"Every time I go past it, I think about her and the family she left behind.

"It's something you don't forget, and having to drive past it, it's always a reminder."

Ms Felton was nominated for the award by Mr Campbell's uncle Stan Bright, who said he wanted to show his appreciation for Ms Felton's actions on that day.

"I'm humbled to have received such an award; most people would have done the same thing," she said.

"When I got to the scene I went back to my first aid training and assessed the situation.

"Knowing we're in a country area I had to report the incident to get medical help as soon as possible, and then when I saw one of the cars starting to catch on fire, there was lots of smoke coming from the car, I just had to get off the phone and help."



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