An Auchterarder man who spent 65 days in a coma after his car collided with a deer has been reunited with a paramedic who helped save his life.
Willie Dowie was 59 when a roe deer landed in the open-topped sports car he was driving three years ago, the hooves of the animal smashing into Willie’s ribcage.
The freak accident sent the victim’s car spinning out of control before it smashed into a tree near the rural village of Findo Gask in Perthshire.
Emergency services rushed to save Willie, who suffered multiple critical injuries, including paramedic Craig McDonald from Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA).
Recalling the incident, Willie knows it was the fast actions of SCAA, the fire, ambulance and police service that saved his life.
“The deer came out of nowhere,” said Willie, “there was nothing I could do.”
“I remember the crushing pain as the animal landed on me and remember hitting the banking and flying towards the tree.
“Then I just drifted in and out of consciousness in a world of pain – pain like I’ve never experienced before.
“I remember hearing sirens, soft voices and questions I couldn’t respond to.
“Then it all went black.”
Willie woke up 65 days later in Ninewells and spent a further four months in hospital, undergoing multiple operations and learning how to walk and eat again.
“Doctors and family told me how my life had been literally ebbing away at the roadside,” he said.
“I was given multiple transfusions by Tayside Trauma Team but they couldn’t fully staunch the bleeding.
“If SCAA hadn’t airlifted me in time I could have bled to death at the scene.
“But I’m alive. My family have their husband, father and grandfather back.”
Three years later Willie, who still walks with a limp and finds certain tasks too painful to complete, was reunited with paramedic Craig live on BBC radio.
Speaking on Our Lives with Michelle McManus, Craig remembered arriving at the scene and told Willie he was sounding “a lot better” than the last time he had seen him.
“We were quite busy that day and we had just cleared from another emergency when we were tasked to your accident,” said Craig.
“I remember landing in a field and there was quite a lot of people already with you.
“There were ambulance crews, fire, police, so as you say there were a lot of people there to help.
“When we arrived Willie’s conditions were life-threatening, they were certainly what we would class as time critical.
As a result it was key that we got him into hospital quickly.
“We have the benefit of flying in a straight line at 120 nautical mph so that was a big benefit.
“Once we got you packaged and into the back of the aircraft, it was straight to Ninewells and that was key in the context of you make a full recovery.”
The paramedic also commended Willie on his positivity since the accident.
He said: “When you have that positive outlook, despite the challenges of hitting the deer and the chances of it happening, I love your positive outlook on all those who came rushing to help a which has made a big difference.”