‘Freak gust of wind almost killed me’

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A tourist blown under a taxi by a freak gust of wind has spoken of his horror at waking up in hospital with a catalogue of life threatening injuries.

John Payne, 61, suffered a broken neck, fractured ribs and a collapsed lung when he was blown into the path of an 
oncoming cab and dragged for 15 yards along New Bonny Street, Blackpool, during a 
winter storm.

The incident left the grandfather trapped underneath the taxi for hours close to death.

Firefighters and police worked together to help to lift the taxi off Mr Payne using high pressured airbags and stabilisation equipment.

Today – four months after the horror incident – Mr Payne is back at his home after a long battle to recover.

After finally being discharged from hospital, he said: “It’s great to be back home with family – the last few months have been hard.”The incident happened on November 3.

Mr Payne’s recovery has involved stays in four different hospitals and meant he had to learn to walk again.

Speaking from his home in Bilston, near Wolverhampton, he said: “It’s my faith that’s got me through, my faith, my family and my friends, all that support has been brilliant.”

The father-of-one’s memory of the incident is patchy.

He said: “I’d been out for the day and I was coming out to go meet my mate in the next pub.

“I’m there enjoying myself and the next minute I wake up nearly dead in hospital.

“When I woke up I just couldn’t believe it. I was just so shocked I never thought something like this could 
happen to me.”

Mr Payne’s brother Tony, 58, said: “He suffered horrific injuries, but to this day he has no memory of it. It was an
horrific accident.”

Mr Payne, a former production operator at Jaguar Land Rover, suffered a broken neck, collapsed lung, fractured ribs and a fractured pelvis as well as a burn to one of his ears – the result of his head being trapped under the cab next to its exhaust pipe.

He has had two metal rods inserted along his spine.

His brother added: “On the night it happened we had a call in the early hours and were told he wasn’t expected to pull through.

“It was the worst case scenario because you don’t get a call in the early hours thinking things are good.

“The consultant shook his hand when he was recovering, because he shouldn’t have made it.”

Mr Payne had been visiting the resort with friend Sam Ingram, staying at the Argyll Hotel on Crystal Road.

He was initially taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital before being transferred to Preston Royal Hospital where he was in the critical care unit for seven weeks.

His family was given the perfect present when Mr Payne was deemed to be well enough to be transferred to Newcross Hospital in 
Wolverhampton meaning son Matthew, 42, and grandson Luke, 16, could visit 
him on Christmas Day.

He was later transferred to West Park Rehabilitation Unit in Wolverhampton 
before finally being discharged last week.

Family and friends joined Mr Payne to toast his miraculous recovery with a well done party at his local pub the White Hart Pub in Bilston.

Mr Payne says the incident will not deter him from visiting the seaside resort he so loves so much.

And he is determined to revisit to pay thanks to the Blackpool firefighters, 
paramedics, doctors and nurses who rescued him 
and looked after him when he was critically ill.

He added: “Those emergency services and hospital staff, they were superb, just fantastic. We can’t thank them enough.

“I love Blackpool, it’s the atmosphere.

“I hope to holiday there again, but next time with two sandbags in my pockets!”