An off-duty nurse helped rescue a family of four after their car plunged down a ravine into the River Cherwell.
Mother of two Jennifer Anderson was driving to her King’s Sutton home following a shift at the Horton General Hospital at 7am on Sunday when a red Mercedes estate car travelling in the opposite direction hit a kerb, flew into the air and careered nose-first into the river on the B4100 at the Nell Bridge, near Adderbury.
A husband, wife and their two teenage daughters returning from holiday to their home in Milcombe miraculously escaped from the vehicle, but were left shocked, seriously injured and unable to climb out of the water
Kidlington-based station manager Brian Butler, in charge of fire crews at the scene, said if it hadn’t been for Mrs Anderson flagging down a passing vehicle the accident may have gone unnoticed until it was too late.
He added: “I don’t believe they would have been found for a number of hours; she definitely helped to save their lives.”
Mrs Anderson – who used her nursing skills to help look after the victims once paramedics arrived at the scene – said: “The car went up in the air before it left the road and as soon as I saw it I thought it was going to be a fatal.
“It was absolutely surreal; I was astonished at what was happening.
“My phone battery had died so I had to spend three to four minutes trying to flag someone down – but it was so early in the morning there wasn’t much traffic. It seemed like a lifetime before the emergency services arrived.”
Three family members were taken to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital by land ambulances, while the mother was taken by air ambulance.
Mrs Anderson said: “I felt really powerless as I could not do anything. I wanted to go down there and see if I could help them. I did not know if they were alive or not for the first few minutes but then I heard screaming. I just kept saying help was on its way.
“I just got on with it when the emergency services arrived and the whole incident only hit me when I was doing the police statement. They said if I was there a couple of minutes earlier we could have had a head-on collision.”
Station manager Butler praised the work of his fire crews in tough conditions.
He said: “Access to the scene was very difficult because of undergrowth and the river bank. The car was waist deep in water and crews had to get the occupants out of the water. The crews worked under extremely difficult conditions and worked extremely well together to achieve a successful outcome.”
The crash victims have expressed a wish not to be named but asked the Banbury Guardian to pass on their thanks to the emergency services who helped them.
At the time of going to press it is understood all but the mother had been discharged from hospital. Thames Valley Police is investigating the cause of the crash.