A driver who was trapped in his overturned convertible for 12 hours following a crash causing him to be thrown around the car “like somebody in a tumble dryer” after swerving to avoid hitting a sheep.
Kenneth Kinley, 57, was trapped inside his Vauxhall Cascada after it rolled down an embankment as he tried to avoid hitting livestock on a country road just before midnight on February 12.
The semi-retired psychiatric nurse was driving home around 11.40pm after dropping his partner Susan Dawson, 55, off at her home in Shotts, North Lanarkshire, after they flew back to Edinburgh Airport following a holiday in Malta.
Kenneth headed home to East Ayrshire – but lost control of his convertible on the B743 towards Muirkirk after he swerved to avoid hitting a sheep.
The car rolled over several times and landed upside down, with both doors jammed by the banks of a ravine, where it could not be seen from the road.
Kenneth’s right ankle was shattered by the collision but he was conscious, and it took 90 minutes before he could free himself from the seatbelt.
His girlfriend kept calling him as he hadn’t let her know he’d arrived home, but his phone was on five per cent battery – and he tried to light fires to catch the eye of passing drivers.
He said: “After 10 hours, just by sheer chance, my other half rang again and I could hear it a lot closer.
“It was underneath the driver’s seat, but with the car being upside down, it was on top.
“It had five per cent battery left on it.
“As soon as I found it I phoned my partner and said ‘look, phone the police, phone an ambulance’, told them the stretch of road I was on, and then I waited.”
Kenneth continued: “The car was upside down over a stream, the windscreen was smashed to bits.
“I couldn’t find my phone, and I tried to break the window.
“There’s a tool the fire fighters have which costs a fiver which you can use to break windows, I would recommend that to everybody and keeping your phone in your coat.
“The convertible saved me, if it was a hatchback it would have been crushed.
“I was in the car for 12.5 hours.
“I moved back in May and bought a property but I can’t do anything to it just now.
“I was able to get the door open just slightly – so I set fire to things to see if I could get anybody’s attention.
“I could hear cars going by but nobody was stopping.”
A helicopter was sent out to scan the area and after 40 minutes found the car, before fire crews, ambulance crews and police were all dispatched.
Kenneth said: “The first thing I saw was two police officers.
“They couldn’t believe I’d been there all night, until they could see how cold I was, I was shaking.
“And then the rest of the crews were just absolutely amazing.
“The ambulance crew were just brilliant.
“One of the crew even got inside the car with me and sat beside me to protect me while the windows were being smashed so the fire brigade could cut the sides out.”
It took medics another two hours to cut him from the wreckage. and he was taken to Crosshouse Hospital where metal plates were installed in his ankle.
Later, as his kidneys were still in shock, he was rushed to the renal unit which he says saved his life.
Kenneth also said breaking his ankle had saved his life, as he suffered renal failure while in hospital which would have killed him it hadn’t been spotted.
He is facing five weeks in a wheelchair and another six weeks of recovery.
The accident happened less than a year after Kenneth moved back to Scotland from London, and his car was written off.
Kenneth said: “It happened on a blind corner, the sheep was in the middle of the road. I swerved and the next minute there was no road.
“I managed to call Susan when my phone was on five per cent battery to let her know where I was and to call 999.
“The doctors said to her if it had been another half an hour, I’d have been gone.”
Kenneth managed to get into the back seats, put some bags down on the soaked soft-top roof of the car that was submerged in the water, and resigned himself to the possibility that it might be his last night alive.
An endoscopy revealed that although Kenneth had been thrown around the car “like somebody in a tumble dryer”, there had been no severe injuries to his vital organs.
He added: “The 999 crews were amazing, a paramedic got in the car with me while the fire fighters smashed the windows, for reassurance.
“The emergency services were absolutely amazing, I couldn’t praise them enough for what they did and how they did it.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.