DARREN Phillip was on his way home to his family when his life was changed in an instant.
Driving between the canefields at Condong, just north of Murwillumbah, Mr Phillip's car and a four-wheel-drive crashed head-on, leaving the father of three close to death and starting him on an entirely different sort of journey.
That fateful night happened nearly a year ago - on July 11 2014 - and Mr Phillip is still fighting to recover from the shocking injuries the crash left him with.
"I had two broken arms, a broken leg, ankle, pelvis, upper and lower jaw, a fractured skull, lacerated tongue and liver, a collapsed lung, brain and spinal injuries and numerous abrasions," Mr Phillip said.
As bad as that sounds, it doesn't necessarily get across the appalling severity of Mr Phillip's injuries.
He was left in an induced coma for a fortnight and, when he awoke, doctors at the Gold Coast University Hospital told him he had just survived some of the worst injuries they had ever seen.
His survival still comes as a surprise to some in his community.
"I'll be walking down the street and people will say, Hey! I thought you died!" Mr Philip said.
That he survived is in no small part down to the CareFlight team that flew in to help him and take him to hospital.
"Darren had blood pooling in the back of his throat (when the CareFlight crew arrived on the scene) and had suffered some of the worst facial injuries I have seen," CareFlight doctor Hayley Frieslich said.
"This was affecting his ability to swallow and keep his airways clear.
"In the state we found him, his condition could very quickly become life threatening."
Mr Phillip is still undergoing rehabilitation and remain at least six months away from being able to return to work, but has managed to catch up with, and thank the CareFlight crew.
"With the amount of blood I lost, I am certain I wouldn't be alive today if I had to make the journey to hospital by road," he said.
"I've known of CareFlight for a long time because we have a few of their bears.
"I never thought I'd need them like that.
"I know for sure without them I wouldn't be here."
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