A woman who was trapped in a car after a serious road crash at an accident blackspot has paid tribute to the emergency teams and an off-duty GP who helped her through her ordeal.
Aimee Preston had to be cut free from the wreck of a vehicle in which she and fiancé Luke Shepherd were driving home to Dornoch from Dingwall on the A9 when it was involved in a collision with another car near the Skiach services junction.
A 40-year-old man was reported to the procurator fiscal following the incident earlier this month.
The pair were stuck upside down inside the car which rolled over and was sent spinning on its roof for around 50 yards.
Mr Shepherd, 30, was helped free but Ms Preston, 28, was trapped and was having difficulty breathing.
She remembers Mr Shepherd swerving and then the car rolling: “I just remember thinking to myself that it was like being in a roller coaster that went upside down for the first time and you were counting the seconds until it stopped.
“Once we stopped rolling we then were stuck upside down but spinning like on a roundabout at a play park. When it all stopped I remember not being able to breathe properly and shouting for Luke.
“He stayed so calm and I said ‘please get me down, I can’t breathe’. Luke had to release me from my seat belt due to it causing me breathing difficulties. The next thing was that I just couldn’t move and I couldn’t understand why.
“There was glass everywhere, on my face in my head and hair and for the next 46 minutes it was a very dark place to be.”
Passing drivers helped Mr Shepherd out of the car unhurt but were unable to move Ms Preston: “Due to where I was stuck in the car it was too difficult to move me in case of a shattered or broken pelvis or neck.
“I was in so much pain at the time I was just crying and screaming to get me out of the car. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a small space when you can’t move.”
Ms Preston said a driver they now know as Ali was one of the first on the scene and helped Mr Shepherd from the vehicle: “He was fantastic. He helped keep Luke calm and was reassuring both of us.”
She said an off-duty GP then arrived and helped. She has since tracked down the medic to thank her, but she asked not to be named, saying she was just doing her job.
“I hope she reads this and knows that she got me through those 46 minutes of being stuck in that car. She kept me so calm and I can’t thank her enough for what she did. It’s people like her that show the best in humanity and how underrated our GPs are.”
She also praised the “amazing” fire fighters who cut her out of the car: “I can say from experience it was not the nicest ordeal, but again the whole fire crew helped me get out and helped me try to stay focused and calm.
“One fire crew lady in particular, who was inside the car with me as they lifted me out, kept me smiling and it’s amazing how someone can make you laugh even a little when it’s such a tense time.”
Ms Preston was treated at Raigmore Hospital for severe bruising to the abdomen and hip, badly bruised hand and foot, concussion and cuts to her head.
“I was told repeatedly that if Luke hadn’t swerved then I would have been left with much more severe injuries.
“The paramedic crew in the ambulance were so kind and reassuring and just what I needed at that moment.
She added: “This isn’t about myself and Luke, although we would like to highlight that the A9 is a dangerous road. We want instead, to focus on this list of amazing people.
“The off duty GP who didn’t hesitate to sit with me while I was stuck in the car. The fire brigade crew who do their job, not just to the high standard that they do, but go the extra mile to make you feel safe while they carry out their dangerous jobs.
“The paramedics who are there to let you know it’s going to be ok and to keep you safe while you get on the road to A&E. And for the A&E team who did the scans and everything that to them is their everyday job, but to me it meant the world.”
Work to improve safety at the notorious junction started last year.