Memories of memories.
I have, or think I have, quite vivid and accurate memories of the events following the accident, although some of what follows was recounted to me by others.
My father, two sisters – Sheila just 21 and my twin Janette – and three family friends – Fred and Wynne Woolley and their daughter Dianne – all died. My mother survived, virtually unharmed; I was unconscious but alive. I only remained so because of the courage of my mother who risked her own life to pull me out of the burning wreckage. I don’t know how she managed it, but she dragged me away from the immediate vicinity of the crash to where we were picked up by an ambulance that was leaving for the hospital in Ljubljana with other survivors.
I still have a scar on my left wrist where, I am told, a drip was hurriedly inserted in the ambulance.
I was very badly injured: a fractured skull, a broken leg, broken ribs, a pierced lung, a broken collar bone and some minor burns (I think that was all). As I regained consciousness, in a state of confusion I had tried to get out of my hospital bed, causing further damage to my broken leg. Instead of setting properly, the two parts of my tibia overlapped each other. My left leg is still, to this day, about one-and-a-half cms shorter than my right. In the haste involved in treating my fractured skull, my collar bone never set properly.
My mother and I were separated when we arrived at the hospital. I was in a coma for 7 days and for most of that time my mother thought that I must have died. However, there was an unknown survivor known as “patient X” in the British media. After five days Mirko Derganc, the surgeon in charge, having confirmed that I was not the person they had initially thought I was, took the coat that patient X had been covered with in the ambulance to show to a group of survivors. My mother recognised it as hers. After being informed of my condition, I was still in a coma, she was taken to see me. I regained consciousness two days later. Although this was wonderful for my mother, it must have been devastating for the other family who had hoped that their son had survived.