Brave actions of Williams car crash responders recognised

11 February 2022

In May last year, Justin Murdock was driving with his family in the town of Williams in WA’s Wheatbelt region when they came across an incident involving another vehicle.

“It was about 9:30 on a Sunday morning,” said Justin. “I was going out woodchopping, I was following a car and they slammed their brakes on and I didn’t realise what was going on because the [other] car was hiding behind the tree basically. It wasn’t until I was alongside that we saw it and I pulled over.”

What they saw was a four-wheel drive carrying a family of four that had veered off the road and crashed head on into a tree. Justin and his wife Pippin immediately got out to assist. While Pippin called 000, Justin assisted in removing an injured young girl from the back seat. 10-year-old Chloe Lee had been travelling in the car with her parents and eight-year-old brother.

“I helped another gentleman who had started to get young Chloe out of the car, but he was struggling a bit. I cradled her and got her out, then found that she was unconscious and had no pulse and I started CPR on her. My wife, she automatically rang 000. There was not much anybody else could do at the time because the mum and dad were trapped.”

Justin performed CPR on the girl until his friend Dylan Lavender arrived on the scene. Dylan then took over chest compressions while Justin provided breaths, and they continued to do so until ambulance officers arrived around 20 minutes later. Meanwhile, Pippin was continuing to speak to the 000 operator and relaying instructions.

“I don’t really know what was going through my mind other than to help the little girl,” said Justin. “I just wanted to help her; it was basically ‘preserve life’. We were waiting for the ambos and firies to get there. My mate Dylan rocked up about 10 minutes later and helped me.” Justin and Dylan also assisted with removing the other passengers from the car and getting them into the ambulance. Firefighters had to work for more than an hour to cut the mother and father from the vehicle, and the family were airlifted to hospital in Perth.

Sadly, young Chloe’s injuries were too severe, and her family were forced to make the heartbreaking decision to turn off her life support. However, the actions of Justin, Dylan and Pippin gave her family the chance to say goodbye to her once they themselves had stabilised days later. The family, who are from Queensland, were able to take Chloe’s body home and hold a funeral service for her there.

Justin, Pippin, and Dylan were formally recognised for their efforts at the 2021 Royal Life Saving Bravery Awards. Justin and Dylan were awarded a Gold Cross and Pippin received a Gold Star Bravery Award. They did not hesitate to provide high-level and immediate medical assistance in a very confronting scenario and are commended for their brave efforts. When asked how he felt about receiving the award, Justin said he didn’t expect it at all. “I was just trying to save a little girl. I’ve got a daughter myself who’s not much older. I don’t consider myself brave, it was just the old ‘fight or flight’ and I decided to fight for her.”

Justin had previously undertaken first aid training through his work and values the ability of knowing what to do in an emergency. He advises anyone who has never completed first aid training to consider doing so. “It’s important. If you can, go and do it. You just never know what’s going to happen in life, do you?”

If you know someone who has bravely stepped in to help save, or attempt to save, another person’s life you can nominate them for a Bravery Award here. To learn vital first aid skills, you can find a course near you at the link below.

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