Holiday Miracle After Horror Train Smash

MIRACULOUS ESCAPE: A young family had a lucky escape after their car collided with a train at a level crossing in South Taranaki.

MIRACULOUS ESCAPE: A young family had a lucky escape after their car collided with a train at a level crossing in South Taranaki.

Hero dad David Maindonald fought through agonising pain to summon help for his partner and two young children after their family car collided with a train at a level crossing yesterday. >

David, 23, a Hawera farmhand, had to use his broken arm to pull out a cellphone to ring emergency services while trapped inside the twisted wreck.

“I just couldn’t feel the pain,” he told Sunday News from his Taranaki Base Hospital bed last night. “I was just worried about my kids and my partner.
I love them so much.’’

The car is a twisted mess of metal but David Maindonald, his partner Carmen Mansfield and their two youngsters survived with only minor injuries after a horror level-crossing smash with a train.

David, 23, was driving Carmen, her four-year-old son and their 16-month-old daughter down their neighbourhood Taumaha Rd in Hawera, just before noon yesterday, when the car collided with the train.

Speaking to Sunday News last night in an exclusive interview from his bed at Taranaki Base Hospital, David said he did not see the train until it was too late.

“I’m just glad everyone’s all right,” he said, one arm wrapped in a sling and his other hand heavily bandaged.

The Hawera farmhand’s collarbone was broken and his hand crushed in the smash.

But he ignored the agony of his injuries to phone for help.

“I pulled the phone out of my shorts and used the arm that was broken. That’s how shocked I was. I just couldn’t feel the pain.”

David managed to call the police before blacking out.

“(I) woke up to the ambulance.

“That’s when I really knew what kind of pain I was in,” he said.

While he was unconscious, firefighters cut him, Carmen and the youngsters from the mangled wreck airlifting Carmen, 23, to Taranaki Base Hospital, where she was treated for head lacerations and chest injuries.

She and David were recovering in the hospital last night.

Their children were taken to the hospital by ambulance and later released after being treated for moderate chest injuries.

David’s relieved mother, Shirley Maindonald, said her son’s miracle survival brought home how precious life was.

“You have to treat life special, because you just never know,” she said.

David lives and works less than 5km from the smash site.

His boss and neighbour, dairy farm owner Gerald Rutten, said the level crossing was an accident waiting to happen, as several friends and co-workers had reported difficulty in seeing oncoming trains.
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Gerald said there had been a similar accident at the exact same spot less than a year ago.

Police are investigating the 11.20am smash, and rail network operator Ontrack has warned drivers to take great care at level crossings.

The collision crossing, on the Marton-New Plymouth line, was uncontrolled with no barriers or lights operating.

Ontrack public affairs manager Kevin Ramshaw said the company was deeply saddened by the collision.

“Our thoughts are with the families of those involved,” he said.

“Whenever such events happen we ask ourselves what we could have done to prevent it, and what we can do in future to make the road/rail interface safer.”

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