A Peterborough man who was pulled away from his burning car by a police officer following a high speed crash has said he would have been killed had it not been for the hero constable.
Jaimish Shah (38) from Werrington suffered a double fracture of the pelvis, and a broken leg, hand and ribs in the New Year’s day crash on the Soke Parkway at Bretton.
He was pulled clear of the wreckage of his Jaguar by PC Chris Cawdery, moments before the car was destroyed in an explosion.
PC Cawdery had only been passing the accident by chance, and stopped when he saw other passers-by looking on in horror by the side of the road.
Jaimish, a management consultant in the banking industry, said: “I accelerated to overtake a car and then cut in to take the slip road, but I lost control. The car fishtailed down the carriageway, and I could not control it. I went off the road at 70mph, and hit a number of trees.
“I had a passenger in the car who got out unscathed.
“I was trapped. My first concern was I had a back injury, but I could move my limbs. Then I realised the car was on fire.
“My legs were trapped, but I managed to free myself, but used all my energy scrambling across the passenger seat and out. I ended up flat on my face on the ground.
“Then I saw Chris coming. He managed to get me on my feet, and supported me to walk a few feet away. It was very painful, but he told me to keep going. As we got further away we heard a big bang, which was the engine exploding.
“There is no way I would be here now if Chris had not been there. It was a big impact - the car uprooted a fairly large tree - so I know I am lucky.”
Jaimish was taken to Peterborough City Hospital, and needed 11 days of treatment before he could go home.
PC Cawdery visited him during his stay, and now they are firm friends.
Jaimish said: “I owe him my life. You hear disparaging stories about the emergency services, but they are the ones who are putting their lives on the line every day.
“I said I owe him a beer or two, and when I am well enough I will honour that. It is the very least I can do.”
Jaimish is still recovering at home, and has not been able to return to work in London yet.
PC Cawdery (29), who has been working for Cambridgeshire police since 2009, said the rescue had all been in a day’s work.
He said: “I was returning to the station after being on another job, when I came across a number of vehicles on the side of the road, and people pointing where the car was.
“It was about 20 feet away through the trees. I saw it was smoking, and went to go and help.
“I was acting on instinct really. The driver said he couldn’t move. I picked him up, and moved him away from the car.
“There was a fence a few feet away, and when we got there we looked back and the car was well on fire.
“A paramedic (Paul Walton) was on hand by that point, and he helped me get him over the fence.”
When PC Cawdery, who is from Sawtry, got back to his station, he was debriefed by his sergeant, and he finished his shift.
He said: “I went and saw him in hospital a few days later, if only for my own piece of mind. I have never had to do anything like this before - I was hoping for a quiet New Year shift!”
PC Cawdery said the rescue was all part of the job, and found the compliments ‘surreal.’
He said: “I certainly didn’t do it for the glory. It is all part of the job. It is just lucky I was passing - if I had gone a different way back to the station, it could have been a different story.”
Chief Inspector Karen Newton said: “I would like to commend Chris for his selfless actions – he put a member of the public’s safety before his own which resulted in him saving a life. The brilliant team work demonstrated by both Chris and Paul just goes to show the effects partnership working can have – without the joint effort, it may have been a very different outcome for Mr Shah who may still have been very close to the vehicle when it ignited.”