A 15-year-old glider pilot who survived a nose-first crash on the highest point of the Pennines delighted his mother when he came out of an induced coma by asking for his Snapchat.
Olly Rastrick could have bled to death on an inaccessible Cumbrian fell without the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) flying him to hospital in Newcastle.
An investigation is ongoing into why the glider crashed at Cross Fell, far from any roads, on August 7.
The pilot’s mother Miranda was at the family home near Southampton and about to go shopping when she was told to get to the Royal Victoria Infirmary.
For the six-hour, 300-mile journey north with her husband Phil, she feared the worst.
Mrs Rastrick said: “I instantly thought he had died.
“I was told the air ambulance had taken him to hospital, I knew it was very serious.
“It was unimaginable. I can only describe it as a numbness. I just had to be by his side.”
Her son had suffered a broken pelvis, femur, ankle and ribs, as well as a lacerated spleen and liver and a blood clot in his head.
Doctors said he could have bled to death at the scene if he had not been treated at the scene and rescued from the remote location by helicopter.
GNAAS specialists spotted the 999 call and set off to help while it was still ongoing, and critical care specialists gave him a blood transfusion and other life-saving measures on the scene.
When his parents arrived at the hospital, they were told his injuries were severe, but the early signs were that his brain and spine were not badly damaged.
Mrs Rastrick said: “I was scared but felt reassured that he was in the best possible place.
“Everything about that hospital was amazing from the moment we arrived to the moment we left.
“A little while later, after they had removed the tube when they knew he was breathing by himself, he started to speak with a very croaky voice.
“The first thing he asked was: ‘I need my Snapchat.’ I thought: ‘That’s my boy.'”
Olly had spent the past two years getting into gliding and aims to become a Typhoon pilot with the RAF, and the crash has not put him off flying.
His mother said: “I was so relieved.
“After what we’ve been through, some people might think we should stop him from doing it again. But I’m not going to stop him. You could be injured driving a car or doing anything.
“He’s just the most level-headed, mature boy. I absolutely trust him. He’s very focused, he knows what he wants, and that is to be in the RAF.
“Gliding isn’t just a hobby for him, it’s a step towards flying Typhoons as a career.”
The GNAAS flew Olly back to the south coast so he could continue his recovery closer to home – the flight was completed after medics had finished a day shift – as a road trip of that distance had been ruled out due to his delicate state.
Mrs Rastrick said: “Without GNAAS, I wouldn’t be saying any of this.
“We would have been arranging a funeral now instead. Olly would have bled to death before getting to hospital.”