Barnsley crash survivor Matthew Arnold tells of horror smash on A1 which changed his life

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Dad, seriously injured in crash caused by drink driver going wrong way up A1, reveals life-changing impact on family

A South Yorkshire dad has told how a horror car crash left him feeling lucky to be alive, after being cut from his wrecked vehicle.

Matthew Arnold, aged 39, was seriously injured in a crash caused by a drink driver travelling the wrong way up the A1.

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He suffered a catalogue of injuries, including spinal fractures, a broken left arm and left foot as well as a separated bowel in the crash which happened on the A1 near Tuxford, Nottinghamshire, in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Matthew Arnold after the crash. PIcture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin MitchellMatthew Arnold after the crash. PIcture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell
Matthew Arnold after the crash. PIcture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell | Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell

Matthew, of Brierley, Barnsley, had been travelling to work as a heavy plant operator when a Lexus travelling north up the southbound carriageway hit his Vauxhall Corsa.

He was unconscious when emergency services arrived at the scene, and had to cut free from the car. He spent five nights in hospital. The Lexus driver was later jailed.

Matthew said: "The collision happened so quickly. One moment I was driving to work as normal and then the next thing there were headlights coming towards me. I didn’t have time to react.

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"At that moment I knew life wouldn’t be the same again. I’ve never experienced such pain and fear. When people talk about life flashing before your eyes I now understand how that feels.

Matthew Arnold after the crash. PIcture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin MitchellMatthew Arnold after the crash. PIcture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell
Matthew Arnold after the crash. PIcture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell | Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell

"Once in hospital the full realisation of the seriousness of the situation really sunk in. In some ways I felt lucky to be alive, but I was worried about what the future would hold, how would I be able to work and provide for my family.

"Leaving hospital and returning home was just the first part of my recovery. I’m reliant on (wife) Laura for a lot of help, even things like getting dressed.

"Before the collision we had a great family life. We enjoyed things like family breakfasts, days out and walking the dog together. I also enjoyed going to the football and going out for meals, but a lot of that has changed.

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"I have to walk with the aid of a stick and can only walk for very short periods of time which completely exhausts me. I’m in constant pain with my back which often means I can’t leave the house. I’m a lot more anxious about going out, especially in a car, and only make essential journeys to hospital appointments as it’s just too stressful for me.

Matthew Arnold, with wife Laura, while he was still in hospital. Picture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin MitchellMatthew Arnold, with wife Laura, while he was still in hospital. Picture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell
Matthew Arnold, with wife Laura, while he was still in hospital. Picture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell | Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell

He said financially the collision had had a massive impact on the family. He was on his way to a job he’d worked hard for and loved. He was in line for a promotion which he was excited about as this would enable the family to move to a bigger home and have more financial security. But he says none of this can happen now.

"I’m still off work and it’s still uncertain if and when I’ll be able to return," he said.

“This was a year that as a family we had so many big plans for but that’s totally changed.

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“I can’t thank Laura and the rest of my family enough for everything they’ve done for me. The last few months have been unimaginably difficult, but I’ve managed to get through them because of their support.

Matthew Arnold back with his family. Picture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin MitchellMatthew Arnold back with his family. Picture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell
Matthew Arnold back with his family. Picture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell | Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell

“I want to make the best recovery I can for my family. I just hope that by speaking out people realise how lives can be changed and the need for everyone to be careful on the roads."

Following the crash, Matthew brought in lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help him get ongoing specialist support, therapies and rehabilitation he needs.

Matthew, who has been unable to return to work because of his injuries, has now spoken for the first time about the impact the collision has had on his family. The Doncaster Rovers fan is joining his legal team at Irwin Mitchell in supporting Road Safety Week and warning of the consequences of dangerous driving.

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Matthew Arnold before crash, with his familyMatthew Arnold before crash, with his family
Matthew Arnold before crash, with his family | Picture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell

The Lexus driver was jailed for 15 months earlier this year. But In a separate civil case, Irwin Mitchell has secured an early admission of liability from the driver’s insurers and substantial interim payments. The funds have enabled Matthew to receive rehabilitation to help him during his long recovery from his injuries.

Kelly Lingard, the specialist serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Matthew, said: "Matthew’s case vividly highlights how the serious injuries people suffer in crashes not only greatly affect that person’s life, but also the lives of their family.

"Understandably the last few months and coming to terms with the physical and psychological impact of the collision has been incredibly difficult for Matthew and his loved ones. As a devoted husband and dad, Matthew feels devastated as his return to work is uncertain during the recovery from the serious injuries he sustained.

Matthew Arnold with his crutches. Picture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin MitchellMatthew Arnold with his crutches. Picture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell
Matthew Arnold with his crutches. Picture: Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell | Matthew Arnold / Irwin Mitchell

"While he’s starting to make progress in his recovery through access to rehabilitation, Matthew still faces many challenges to overcome his injuries the best he can. We continue to support Matthew and his family to help Matthew maximise his recovery.

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"In the meantime, we join Matthew in supporting Road Safety Week. We hope what happened to Matthew acts as a warning to the consequences innocent road users can be left to face because of the dangerous actions of others."

Following the collision, Matthew, who grew up in Doncaster, was taken to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham. After four days he was transferred to Barnsley Hospital before being discharged home to his family.

He still lives with severe pain in his back, foot and arm and struggles to walk because of his injuries. Matthew is reliant on his wife to help him get dressed and struggles to walk upstairs.

In September, the driver of the Lexus, was jailed for 15 months and banned from driving for three years. He had previously pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and drink-driving.

Road Safety Weeks runs from November 19-25 and is run by the road safety charity Brake.

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