GREG Willmott remembers the vision of driving into a black wall of sludge just moments before a horrific car accident that changed his life forever.
“All I could see at the end of the headlights was a wall of black sludge, it was like I was driving into it before everything went black,” Mr Willmott said.
“I was driving for 15kms in a subconscious state.
“Where I hit the tree was the last corner before the straight road to my house.”
The accident just outside of York 16 years ago rendered the Glendalough resident a quadriplegic.
Mr Willmott said at the time he was “pushing himself to the limit” and working two jobs.
“I must have been laying down over my console with my head on the passengers seat so when I hit I only a small part of the seatbelt on me so when that snapped I got forced under the dashboard; I hit the tree dead centre and I was going pretty fast,” he said.
“My neck was hooked on to the gear stick and that’s how I broke the C7 and C7 vertebrae.
“When I came around, I saw a square of light, like in the morning when you look up into the sky and it’s sort of a golden blue, I thought wow, the sun is out and then the next thing I remember is the beeps from medical machines.”
Mr Willmott said when he was told he might never walk again he thought he was having a strange dream.
“Up until then I thought I was going to walk again,” he said.
“I sort of hoped I would wake up and I’d just be asleep on the side of the road in my car, that’s what I was hoping but it was all reality.”
After 16 years in his wheelchair, Mr Willmott said he has spent up to 10 years bedridden because of pressure sores and without insurance has been waiting for surgery to relieve the pain since 2011.
Mr Willmott said new catastrophic injury insurance would benefit people in his position who needed ongoing care.
“This insurance – I can’t believe the Government has come out and done it, it’s great,” he said.
“Some people are going to find the extra $99 hard but again everyone pays the same it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor.
“It just means that people like me – when we have an accident we’re taken care of, you don’t have to worry about the stress of how you can afford things to live your everyday life.”
Mr Willmott now speaks at workplaces for the Paraplegic Benefit Fund to warn people of the dangers of driving tired.
“Everything is so fast paced today we are always pushing ourselves, a lot of crashes happen right near home when people start to relax,” he said.
“Just pull up for five minutes, take a break, walk around the car, check out what’s going on around you and then cruise, it’s better late than never.
“You make the choice, you suffer the consequences and as harsh as that sounds it’s a nice way of saying smarten up, pull over, have a rest.”