Queen honours brave trio who saved drivers after road smash

Dorset Echo: RISKED THEIR LIVES: Brian and Jo Keane who have received awards for bravery from the Queen for rescuing two drivers RISKED THEIR LIVES: Brian and Jo Keane who have received awards for bravery from the Queen for rescuing two drivers

Three Dorchester residents who rescued two drivers involved in a road traffic accident have received awards for bravery from the Queen.

Andrew Bilton and husband and wife Brian and Joanne Keane have received Queen’s Commendations for Bravery, a civilian gallantry award which is given for acts of bravery entailing risk to life and meriting national recognition.

The Queen approved the awards for their actions on June 23 this year where they rescued the two drivers from their vehicles which caught fire after a collision on the Stafford Bypass in Dorset.

The Keanes told the Echo that it was a ‘great honour’ to be recognised for their actions on what was an ‘unforgettable day’.

The Keanes were travelling on the West Stafford bypass in Dorset when they came upon the scene of two vehicles involved in a collision. Brian Keane, 47, ran to offer what assistance he could to the occupants of the two cars.

He found that both drivers were badly injured.

Having been joined by his 42-year-old wife, they managed to get one of the drivers out of his vehicle. Another person, Andrew Bilton then appeared and he and Brian Keane attempted to get the driver out of the second car. Unfortunately, this proved difficult because both front doors of the car were jammed shut.

By this time smoke from the other car had turned to flames but both men continued to try force the door open, but to no avail.

The fire from the other car had now spread to the car both men were attending.

Refusing to give up, Brian Keane managed to get the back door open, got inside the car and was able to force the driver’s door open slightly.

He then went outside and with the help of Andrew Bilton managed to open the door from the outside and got the driver out to safety.

Shortly after, Joanne Keane administered first aid to the driver, ensuring that his airwaves remained open. Mr Keane said: “It is a great honour and we were over the moon when we received the letter.

“I remember the day like it was yesterday.

“We are just glad that both involved were okay.

“My wife and Andy were amazing, we just had to stay calm. When flames started to spread through the car, it was awful we just kept trying to get him to safety. It was a sleepless night worrying if he was going to be okay.

The citation states that “It is almost certain that all three were instrumental in saving the lives of the two crash victims.

“Their quick actions ensured that the victims were kept safe until the emergency services arrived.

“Brian and Joanne Keane and Andrew Bilton all put their lives in danger from the moment they became involved in the rescue.

“The crashed vehicles, which were a few steps away, could have exploded and possibly two of them, if not all three, could have been killed.”

The three will receive their awards from the Lord-Lieutenant for Dorset, Mrs Anthony Pitt-Rivers.

There are four levels of award:

  • The George Cross – Granted only for acts of gallantry of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger
  • The George Medal – Granted for gallantry of an extremely high order
  • The Queen’s Gallantry Medal – this award is granted for gallantry of a high order
  • Queen’s Commendation for Bravery and The Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the Air – Granted for gallantry entailing risk to life and meriting national recognition

    ‘They saved my life’

    ‘THANK YOU’- that is the message from a grateful crash victim to the three Dorchester residents who saved his life.

Matt Payne, 24, of Dorchester, is still recovering from injuries received during the horrific crash in June.

The crash left him with a broken femur, fractured ankle and patella, a collapsed lung, a head injury and lots of bruising.

He said: “I would personally like to say a big thank you to Andrew Bilton and Brian and Jo Keane.

“If it had not been for their quick response and the determination of all three, I may not be here today. “Not only have Mr and Mrs Keane been around to see me since coming out of hospital, but they have also been very supportive towards my family and myself, because of this we have built a friendship that I will keep for a very long time.

“I would like to say a big thank you for their bravery and perseverance in what was a horrific crash and also to the emergency services and staff at Dorset County Hospital who helped that night and all the way through my ongoing recovery.”

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