On Monday morning, 30-year-old Joshua Farrell was out for an early-morning drive near Pincher Creek, Alta. when his SUV collided with the side of a semi truck.
Two witnesses arrived minutes later and stayed with him until help arrived.
Julian Williams, 19, and Nathan Slingerland, 18, were travelling east on Highway 3 from the Crowsnest Pass after a weekend camping trip when they came across the accident at around 4:30 a.m.
They were returning to the Lethbridge area before dawn for work, and said they were one of the only cars on the highway at the time.
The two immediately called 911. While they were on the phone, EMS came across the scene and began helping Farrell. The paramedics had been returning to Pincher Creek from another call.
“We were just assisting where we could,” Williams said.
“We knew it had happened just minutes before,” he added, saying the semi-truck involved had been driving behind them before they turned off the road to check on their vehicle, allowing the semi to pass.
Williams and Slingerland helped scan the area to make sure no one else was hurt, and used LED lights from their vehicle to help the paramedics see in the dark.
About 20 minutes later, firefighters and more EMS arrived and Farrell was transported to Pincher Creek Hospital.
“Just by doing what they did, by providing that comfort, care and support probably made a big difference in him,” said Deputy Fire Chief Pat Neumann.
“If we actually have people that witness an accident and they’re able to stop, first of all it gets the 911 system activated sooner,” Neumann said. “Second-of-all, it gives our EMS and fire staff some indication of maybe what happened and maybe the types of injuries and the things that we’re going to see.”
Once Farrell was stabilized in Pincher Creek, he was airlifted by STARS to the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Neumann said.
Farrell’s family is now sending out their thanks to everyone involved in helping save his life, including Williams and Slingerland.
“It’s just a blessing that they were on the highway,” Farrell’s sister Kayla Allen said.
“It’s a blessing that they called [EMS] as soon as they did. It’s a blessing that the EMS just happened to be returning to Pincher Creek from a previous call.”
According to Allen, her brother was finishing his studies to become a doctor and has four young children at home in Cardston.
He has undergone hours of surgery to repair the many broken bones he suffered.
“The rest of his body might be going through it right now, but we know his heart is there and his mind is there,” she said.
She and the rest of his family aren’t currently able to visit him in hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions, but have been able to FaceTime him.
“He is sedated and intubated … but he can hear us,” Allen said.
It was the second accident Williams witnessed in as many days. The 19-year-old was there when a fellow camper rolled her ATV.