PINNED under his ute and unable to move, see or hear, Jamie Benbow figured he was done for.
The 27-year-old had been working on the vehicle in his driveway.
He initially had it all secured – “the wheels were chocked, the vehicle was on stands at the front… undid the front bolts and then took the stands down, put them on the back…”
“Then I realised the tail shaft was stuck,” Jamie said.
A tap with the hammer ought to free it, he thought.
“It’s a two-second job.”
So he propped the vehicle up with the jack and slid under it.
“The worst part of it is, as I was putting it up I was like, ‘I probably should put the stands under it,’” Jamie said.
“But I thought, ‘It’ll be right.’”
As he suspected, the tail shaft came free with a quick tap of the hammer.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only thing to loosen.
“For some reason I knew the car was falling,” Jamie said.
He had time enough to realise he was in trouble before it hit him.
The ute landed on his forehead and lower abdomen, pinning him to the ground.
His only view was of the car’s underside.
“I tried to yell out, “HELP,” knowing my housemates weren’t home and my neighbour on the garage side had also just gone out,” Jamie said.
“As soon as I tried to yell I knew there was no air because I had no breath straight away.”
He went into “survival mode,” contemplating his options to make enough noise to be noticed a few doors down.
“My feet were outside the vehicle still and I could move them, so I just started kicking the side of the door,” Jamie said.
He kicked and kicked until he could no longer move his legs.
At that moment, a woman in a house down the street happened to be outside and heard the commotion.
She followed the noise to Jamie’s house, and realised he was in trouble.
It's not a debt you can ever repay, but I don't think I could ever explain just how appreciative I am.Jamie Benbow
The woman flagged down a passer-by, who was cleaning up his house in preparation to move.
Her screams for help also raised the attention of off-duty firefighter Tim Weston, who came bolting out his house, to Jamie’s aid.
Trapped under the car, with his senses failing him, Jamie had no idea help was on its way.
He’d already accepted that he was done for.
“My first thought was my Mum and Dad…then I thought about my nephew and my little sister,” Jamie said.
“The very last thought I had was, ‘Someone’s going to find my body.’”
That made him feel guilty. But, once he’d come to terms with what he perceived to be his fate, Jamie said he felt a sense of peace unlike anything he’d experienced before.
“Later on, the doctor told me that was about as close as you could get without crossing over,” he said.
The first sound he became conscious of, since the moment he became pinned, was a male voice asking, “Are you alright, mate?”
It sounded like it came from metres away, but his rescuers were right near his head.
Tim and the passer-by elevated the vehicle, freeing Jamie, while the woman called the ambulance.
Jamie said he sustained lots of internal bruising, swelling around his eyes, forehead and sinuses, and lots of grazing and bruising.
His medical team is investigating the source of some ongoing back pain, and a possible fracture to Jamie’s nose.
“It’s not much in comparison to what it could have been,” Jamie said.
He was discharged from hospital on Friday night - the day after the incident.
A week on, he’s still in a bit of pain. He has bouts of exhaustion, and is frustrated by having to take it easy.
“I’m the kind of guy that has to be doing things – I hate to be doing nothing,” the business owner and gridiron player said.
But he’s grateful just to be alive.
“Everything was a coincidence,” Jamie said.
His neighbour was on her way back inside her house when she heard Jamie kicking against the car. She flagged down a man who just happened to be on his way to tidy up a property that had recently sold. Her screams alerted Tim, who was just walking into his bedroom. He was working the night shift.
Had any one of those circumstances been different, Jamie might not have lived.
He has since been asking himself: “How do you thank someone for saving your life?”
“It’s not a debt you can ever repay, but I don’t think I could ever explain just how appreciative I am,” he said.
His rescuers told him anybody would do the same thing.
“And I’m like, ‘Yeah, but you did do it,’” Jamie said.
He posed the question in a private Facebook group – a post that elicited thousands of responses.
A barbecue was the most popular suggestion to show gratitude.
“Quite a lot of them were just like, ‘I do the exact same thing – I’ll never do that again’,” Jamie said.
“I reckon I’ve seen at least a dozen blokes put up photos of brand new jack stands they went out and brought the next day.
“Even if one person learns from my misfortune it was worth it, in my eyes.”
His message to anyone reading this story: “Don’t take shortcuts”.
“In the end, that extra three minutes to put a jack stand underneath the car could have saved my life,” Jamie said.
“I was just very lucky and I don’t think I’d ever get that lucky again. It’s the biggest fluke to be alive.”