Yeah, on the 19th February 2004 I received a phone call from the wife to say that there was an accident at Lewis’s place of work, and he was badly injured. And I was at the time working in Southampton, so I, I drove back and on the way back I could hear, I had the radio on and I could hear about the explosion. Not realising what was, what was I was getting into getting up there but I felt really bad because my wife was actually housebound, she’s disabled.
And she couldn’t get out of the house, and my daughter went up to the hospital and my wife warned her sister to meet my daughter at the hospital. I arrived at the hospital and I was greeted by a nurse who took me to a room and asked me if I was prepared for what I was about to see. And I said, “Well of course I, you know, I just want to see my son”, and she said, “Well you’ll have to wait about ten, fifteen minutes because the surgeons are with him at the moment, he’s being treated, and I said, “Is, is he alive?” And they said, “Yes, he is, you know he’s alive, but he’s received some bad burns.” About fifteen twenty minutes later , about that, sorry, at that time I was taken into another room and I met my daughter and my sister in law, and we sat together and the nurse came back in and said that we could come out and see Lewis. When we went out Lewis was asleep, they’d sedated him, and he was completely wrapped in sort of white blankets and some soot round his nose, but his face was, you know, unmarked and there wasn’t any burns on his face.
What was round his nose?
The soot, from the,
The soot from the explosion, where he’d breathed in the fumes and the smoke. But they said that was you know, we could only sort of see him and that was it, he had to be rushed off to a special burns unit. And they, we were just led away after that. So we came home.
And then we were told that the next day he was, they were going to have to do some operations to put some cadaver skin on him.
Transplant skin, to take away the burnt tissue and put fresh skin onto it. The operation would be about five or six hours, so we knew that was happening the next day, and every time we rang up the next day we were told he was still in surgery, and so we were getting a bit concerned because it was going on long, I think in the end he was in their sort of like ten, eleven hours, in the surgery. And when we went back up the nurse said well because he was such a strong lad they could do more, so they took the opportunity to replace more, rather than do it in two separate operations, they continued to do it in one. So I felt quite hopeful with that and they told us that they had to amputate one of his fingers because it was so badly burned you know he, he couldn’t use it, and we were sort of wondering you know how Lewis would cope with that, so we then left the hospital, came home, and everything was sort of quiet for that next day, and I think it was in the night, the night of the third night we had a phone call from the hospital, about 3 o’clock in the morning to say Lewis has taken a turn for the worse and we need to get up to the hospital. So we went up to the hospital and we sort of waited, we waited for about 4 or 5 hours before we actually got to see Lewis, and the doctor came and saw us and said, there’d been quite a few problems, Lewis’s internal organs had started to shut down and they didn’t think that you know he was going to last much longer. At that point we were actually brought into the room to see Lewis, and whilst we were in there the machine’s crashed and, you know, all Lewis’s vital signs stopped, and the Doctor said, “You know, we, there’s nothing more we can do, we need to, have permission to turn the life support off.”
Which I couldn’t do. So my wife had to make that decision. And well, they said that actually you know it he’s no longer here.
I’m so sorry.
So that was, that was the hardest part. And then you sort of, you’re in limbo you know you’re just you know it’s all sorts of things go through your head, and I was told I had to wait behind because I had to pick up the death certificate. And I thought, “Well, what’s so important about the death certificate. Can they not post it?”, but apparently you have to wait. So I waited for about 20 minutes to get the death certificate. And then we went outside and sort of cuddled each other, and then we came home. Its, it’s just such a hard thing to describe because it’s as if somebody reached inside and just wrenched everything like from inside you, you feel totally numb, and even just looking at my wife just reminded me of Lewis you know.