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Accident rescue pilot tells of daring action
THE pilot of an air ambulance that came to the rescue of a pensioner injured in a rush-hour accident has told of the daring landing.
A 72-year-old woman from the Skerne Park area of Darlington last night remained in a stable condition in The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, after suffering serious head and arm injuries in Wednesday’s incident.
She was hit by a blue Ford Focus as she crossed Blackwell Lane, near the junction with Grange Road, on Wednesday afternoon.
Police are still looking for four youths who were seen throwing eggs at the Focus shortly before the collision.
It is thought the 36-year-old driver of the Focus was distracted by the youths.
A helicopter from the Great North Air Ambulance Service landed in Grange Road at the height of rush-hour, drawing a crowd of onlookers.
Pilot Jay Steward, 42, was at the controls.
He said: “It was a slightly more complicated landing than normal because of the obstructions that were all around – posts, trees, buildings and so on.
“I was part of a team – there were two other people on board the aircraft and we just took our time and agreed what we were doing.
“There were three sets of eyes and we kept it as safe as possible.
“It took up a bit more grey matter than the average landing in a field, but the aircraft is very good and very powerful.”
Mr Steward has been flying full time for the air ambulance service for just over a year, and is employed by private aviation company Multiflight, based in Leeds.
He said downwash – the effect of a helicopter’s blades turning when it begins to take off – was a big factor to consider when the crew had loaded the patient.
He said: “With the bigger helicopters, there is quite a substantial downwash, so there is quite a lot gets flung up in the air when the rotor blades start turning.
“When the helicopter lifts off, the air is pushed down and it creates an awful lot of wind underneath the aircraft.”
Witnesses to the accident are asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.