Hero girls win lifesaver awards following Kelstedge crash

Rachel Hanlon, Gina Needham.
Rachel Hanlon, Gina Needham.

A pair of young heroes have been awarded for their efforts to save the lives of victims following an horrific crash.

Rachel Hanlon, 18, and Georgina Needham, 23, were among the first people on the scene of a fatal collision at the junction of Birkin Lane and the A632, in Kelstedge, on the evening of September 20, 2012.

Following the collision between a Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 206, Connor Short, of Ashover, and Liam Chapman, of Clay Cross – both aged 16 – passed away.

Tragically, Connor’s dad, David Short, died on the same stretch of road eight years previously.

The Royal Human Society has now awarded Rachel, of Matlock Bath, a testimonial on parchment for her efforts to save the pair, while Georgina, of Darley Dale, has been awarded a Certificate of Commendation.

“I sat in the car while they cut it open, talking to them and telling them it would be okay,” – a brave teenager recalls the night she tried to save the lives of two crash victims.

It was around 10.30pm on September 20, 2012, when Rachel Hanlon, then aged 16, and her 21–year–old friend Georgina ‘Gina’ Needham came across a scene that would change their lives forever.

They were travelling along the A632 towards Matlock, when they saw the aftermath of an horrific accident at Kelstedge.

In the darkness, they found two cars with their lights out. The occupants of the first car were shocked but relatively unharmed.

It was a different matter however for the car in which Connor Short, of Ashover, and brothers Kieran and Liam Chapman, of Clay Cross, had been travelling, which was wrecked.

As avid St John Ambulance members, the girls leapt into action – Rachel, of Matlock Bath, getting into the back of the car with Connor.

“Connor had a big cut on his head and he was making gurgling noises,” she said.

The driver, Kieran, couldn’t move because he was in such a state of shock. Rachel stabalised Connor’s airway.

“I kept him still, I kept talking to him and stroking his hair so he knew I was there and likewise with Liam in the front,” she continued.

Gina, of Darley Dale, took one of the occupants of the other vehicle to hospital.

When the emergency services arrived, they found the car was so crumpled that Rachel was the only person small enough to fit inside, so she stayed in it while they cut the roof off to release the casualties – directing them as they went. The firefighters didn’t have enough time to cover her up as they removed the roof, so she ended up with cuts all over her arms and legs.

“I remember looking up and seeing blood all over the roof of the car – that’s the bit I remember most,” Rachel said.

Liam was airlifted to Nottingham Queen’s Medical Centre, where he died a few days later. Connor was taken to by land ambulance to Chesterfield Royal Hospital, where he died later that night. They were both aged 16.

“What I did was keep them alive for long enough for their parents to say ‘goodbye’ to them,” Rachel said.

Gina, now aged 23, said the experience has made her more determined to enjoy her life. Both she and Rachel want to become paramedics.

“I just want to be out there helping people,” Gina, who currently works as a dispenser at a chemist in Matlock, said.

“I think if you can help people who can’t help themselves then it make it all worthwhile.”