A TEENAGER who suffered horror injuries when his mum crashed on black ice was saved after their BMW called 999.
Mum Claire Duke, 40, lost control as she headed down a hill at 55mph and smashed into a wall.
Moments before she veered off the road she yelled to sons Bradley, 14, and Hayden, nine, who were in the back: “We’re going to crash.”
Bradley panicked and undid his seat belt so when Claire’s 3 Series struck the wall he was flung into the foot well, suffering devastating skull and spine fractures.
The BMW’s state-of-the art safety features mean the firm’s call centre is alerted when a car’s air bags are deployed.
An operator calls the driver using the in-car sim card and if there is no answer they alert the emergency services and pass on the car’s location.
Claire had been knocked unconscious so she didn’t answer – and when she came round moments later she heard the BMW operator saying: “We know where you are and help is on its way.”
Bradley was in a critical condition but paramedics were able to stabilise him at the scene.
He was rushed to hospital where he was placed in an induced coma and take for emergency brain surgery before being put on a life support machine.
It was touch and go for a while but he came round after nine days and a month later was finally allowed home.
He spent months re-learning basic skills such as reading and writing and is still recovering more than two years after the smash.
But business manager Clare is just grateful for the BMW’s eCall feature.
He wouldn’t be with us now if it wasn’t for that. If he had been lying there for just a few moments more he would have died.
Mum Claire Duke
She said: “He wouldn’t be with us now if it wasn’t for that. If he had been lying there for just a few moments more he would have died.”
The crash happened in Sheffield in January, 2017, when Claire lost control on a patch of ice as she drove Bradley and Hayden to school.
She said “I was trying to pump the brakes and put the handbrake on but nothing would work.
“When I realised what was going to happen I felt sheer panic and shouted out to the kids ‘we’re going to crash’.
“I was in a state of complete panic. I had no idea what to do.
“When I woke up I was really confused because there was a woman’s voice speaking, I thought maybe I had rung someone by accident.
“It was saying, ‘we know where you are and help is on its way’.
“I looked back and saw Bradley slumped in the back so went to check on him, I could tell he was hurt but I thought he had probably just bumped his head.
“I was scrambling around for my phone so that I could call for help but I couldn’t find it. The seriousness of the situation still hadn’t kicked in because of the shock.
“It was such a traumatic time, I couldn’t stop blaming myself and asking whether I should have made the car journey that I did.
“I’ll never stop asking myself those questions.”
Claire, who also has an eight-week-old daughter Sienna with partner Mark Szalmer, and Hayden only suffered minor injuries
Bradley, now 17, is still recovering but Claire said he is “almost back to his best”.
The teen said: “I don’t remember anything about the crash, I blacked out. The first thing I remember was waking up in the hospital with wires everywhere.
“I had to ask my family what had happened because I didn’t know. I was scared but really thankful to be alive.
“I feel very lucky, if it wasn’t for the technology in the car and the doctors in the hospital, I wouldn’t be here today.
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“It’s amazing what the technology can do. Nobody knew the car had that feature.”
A BMW spokesman said: “We are so delighted that Bradley and Claire are fit and well after their awful crash.”
To say thank you to the medics who saved his life, Bradley has taken part in a fundraising drive for a £500,000 helipad at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where he was airlifted to after the crash.
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