“If you had been through what I have been through, you wouldn’t speed, you wouldn’t drink and drive. You just wouldn’t do it.”
That’s the message crash survivor Andrew Murray has for everybody who gets behind the wheel of a car.
The Dubbo man wasn’t expected to live after he suffered brain damage and other head injuries in a 150 kilometre-per-hour crash at Lake Cargelligo in December of 1995.
He defied medical expectations but spent the next few months learning how to walk, talk and even feed himself.
The accident left him with permanent memory loss, impaired peripheral vision that prevents him from getting a driver’s licence and other affiliated issues.
He has also been diagnosed with depression because of his situation.
He said the accident ruined his life, but he said it could have just as easily ruined the lives of others, and said that would have been even harder to live with.
“I was in town, I didn't get around the corner, I slid sideways for 150 metres, mounted this guy's front gutter, hit his Landcruiser, then somersaulted into his house,” Mr Murray said.
“It was very lucky the passenger was thrown from the car before we hit the house and he spent one night in hospital before being released.
“Thank God, because if I had killed someone I wouldn't be able to live with myself.”
Mr Murray was celebrating his last day of work at Lake Cargelligo before he was due to join the police academy.
He was drinking with a group of friends when one of them asked him to drive their girlfriend home. He got her home but the crash occurred and Andrew and his friend returned.
He has no recollection of the accident, but said crash investigators conservatively estimate he was travelling at 150 kilometres an hour.
Because of his condition, it was several hours before a blood analysis was conducted but even hours later, Mr Murray had a blood alcohol content of .110.
He was flown from Lake Cargelligo to Prince of Wales Hospital by a medical retrieval unit but there were doubts he would live.
Because of the severity of his injuries, it was at least two weeks before doctors became sure he would be able to pull through.
The accident took a massive toll, not just on Andrew, but on his whole family. His mother, father and brother all took time off while Andrew was in hospital in Sydney. Sadly, Andrew’s father passed away in 2003.
“He's a walking miracle really,” his mother Cecily Murray said.
“He had the last rites at Lake Cargellico and then a couple of times when he was in Sydney because they didn't think he would pull through.
“The doctors said he would probably never walk again and he'd be blind and we just had to deal with that.
“When you see how far he's come, he's come a long way but it's taken a lot of hard work.”
While Cecily never gave up on her son for a minute, Andrew saw firsthand that other parents weren’t the same.
“It's thanks to my parents, brother and other family [that I’m here],” he said.
“There were other kids in hospital at the same time and they didn't have that support. The only I reason I recovered as well as I did is because of my family.”
Andrew said his injuries made life difficult for not just himself, but everyone around him.
He said not being able to get a driver’s licence had placed a burden on his mum, who he relies on to drive him almost everywhere.
He struggles with his short and long term memory and writes most things down to help him keep track.
“My entire childhood is wiped. Emotionally important memories I can remember, but other than that everything is wiped,” he said.
Andrew hopes that others learn from his lesson.
He said if one person considers their actions after hearing his story, his effort has been worth it.