Potchefstroom nurse tells of horror crash: 'I had to declare three people dead within minutes'

2019-07-05 15:36
Joey Francis. (Photo: Supplied)

Joey Francis. (Photo: Supplied)

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She's seen more than her fair share of tragedy, heartbreak and devastating loss in her career as a nurse, but none of that could've prepared Joey Francis for what happened on the night of June 29.

Joey had just finished an afternoon nursing shift in Klerksdorp and was driving home to Potchefstroom. At about 7.30pm she came across an accident that had just happened.

She'd thought she'd seen it all, she says, but the horror of the accident proved otherwise.

"It's a terrifying experience," Joey tells YOU.

"I was just outside Potchefstroom when I came across the accident scene. I'd just switched lanes into the right lane because the left lane turns off to another neighbourhood. It was dark. There were no lights and I couldn't see much.

"The next moment it felt as if I drove over something. I was still trying to figure out what that bump was when I drove over a second something – that's when I realised it was people."

Joey accidentally drove over two people who'd been flung from their vehicle due to the impact of the earlier crash.

"You're completely numb with shock. You can't do anything."

But despite the helplessness the 60-year-old woman felt, she turned the car around to help stabilise the injured on the scene while the paramedics were on their way.

"My immediate instinct was to see who I could help. It was pitch dark but what I could see broke my heart. I had to declare three people dead within minutes."

She then went to help a young boy at the scene. Once the ambulance arrived she helped put a critically injured man on a ventilator and assisted with his intravenous (IV) therapy. She also helped two others with injuries that included broken bones.

"One would think I'd be hysterical but that wasn't the case. I get my strength from God and he helped me to stay calm. I kept thinking of the lyrics of a gospel song, 'I've got Jesus, what more do I want?' and that kept me going."

Police who arrived at the scene were really kind to her, Joey says. "I commend them. One policeman let me sit in the police car while he was attending to the accident scene. He said it's cold outside and reminded me that I needed to stay calm."

The same policeman told her it's a miracle that she's still alive. "He said if I'd stayed in the left lane for a second longer, I'd have smashed into the stationary vehicle involved in the accident. Then I wouldn't be around today."

But she's still waiting for the autopsy report of the people she drove over.

"I want to know what killed them. I have to know, to get closure. I have to know that my car wasn't the thing that finally ended their lives."

Despite the trauma of the accident, Joey was back at work the next week. The communities of Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp have praised her for what she did for the victims involved in the accident. She thanks everyone for their messages of support.

"Did I save lives? No. Life and death aren't in my hands. But I did my duty and maybe I lightened someone's load. I don't need to be thanked for that."

Read more on:    accidents
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