Alex faced death and survived
“IF YOU don’t feel safe, get out of the car.”
That’s the simple message Alex Gourley hopes might save someone’s life.
And it comes from the heart.
The 16-year-old is slowly recovering from horrific injuries he suffered in a crash which killed his mate, Rodney Walker, near Maryborough last year.
Three other friends, including the 16-year-old learner driver behind the wheel of the car, escaped with minor injuries but it took rescue workers more than two hours to cut Alex from the wreckage.
He suffered a broken ankle and two broken femurs, his right femur slicing through his femoral artery as it tore out of his leg. He was lucky to survive and then to avoid having his leg amputated.
With the headlines full of the Victorian road tragedy which killed five young men on the weekend, Alex knows how lucky he is to be alive.
He remembers wanting to get out of the car when Rodney let the 16-year-old take the wheel on a quiet country road.
“I hopped out at that point and said ‘I’m not staying in the car’.
“I knew he’d only had his licence from about May.
“I knew he wasn’t experienced and I didn’t trust him.
“But all the other guys assured me we’d be right – that he could drive properly.
“I trusted them because we were all friends and had been for a long time.
“So I hopped back in.”
It was a mistake which almost cost Alex his life.
In less than a minute the driver lost control in loose gravel and the car slammed into a tree.
Rodney, sitting in the front passenger seat without a seatbelt, took the full impact and died at the scene.
Alex ended up in Royal Brisbane Hospital for five weeks and has spent the past fortnight learning to walk again at Eden Rehabilitation Centre in Cooroy.
He hopes to return to AFL and taekwondo but knows he has a long, hard road ahead.
In the meantime, he hopes other teenagers will learn from his story.
“My advice to other kids is that if you don’t feel safe with whoever’s driving, get out of the car and get your mum and dad to pick you up,” he said.
“Don’t care about whether your friends think you are a coward. Make sure you always wear a seatbelt and stick up for yourself.”
As Alex prepares to head home tomorrow, his dad Tim described the crash and the weeks which followed as his family’s “worst nightmare”.
“It’s hard to describe how you feel when you get that phone call saying there’s been an accident and your son is involved,” he said.
“We’d been warning him about it for years.
“We always taught him self-preservation – to look after himself first, otherwise he couldn’t look after anyone else.
“He knows he came very close (to dying) – enormously close.”