Jonathan reunited with his hailstorm angel lady
By DOMINIC FEAIN
WHEN the full fury of last week's hailstorm trapped disabled man Jonathan Ley on Lismore's Fawcetts Bridge, all he remembered was an 'angel coming out of the white' to help him to%safety.
As reported in the Northern Star last Friday, Mr Ley was badly injured when caught on the bridge as the hailstorm struck.
He was eventually pulled to safety by a stranger and taken into the Winsome Hotel, where bartender Tara Hammond and manager Evan Gale applied first aid and drove him to hospital.
He sustained severe bruising and concussion and considers himself lucky to be alive.
Mr Ley, who returned to the Winsome days later bearing flowers and presents for Ms Hammond and Mr Gale, also desperately wanted to thank his unknown 'angel'.
In a last-ditch attempt to contact her before returning to Melbourne, he left a thank you at the Winsome addressed to 'the angel lady who saved my life'.
As chance would have it, the Northern Star tracked down Mr Ley's 'angel', Leigh Kingma of Bungawalbyn, giving him a chance to thank her personally at a reunion of his rescuers at the Winsome on Tuesday afternoon.
Ms Kingma remembers driving across Fawcetts Bridge that day trying to get out of the hail.
"You couldn't see a thing, it was all white I swear I was the only idiot driving," she said.
"My car was getting hammered so I turned down into the Winsome and drove up on the footpath to get under the awning.
"When I got out I heard a distressing cry for help."
With visibility down to a few metres Ms Kingma instinctively walked back out into the hail.
"It was then I saw this figure with a walking stick," she said.
Mr Ley clearly remembers the relief he felt at his rescue.
"I was losing it & it was like getting hit in the head, over and over, with a hammer. I was alone & then she just came out of nowhere and got me," he said.
"I can't walk real fast so she copped a few [hailstones] too."
Mr Ley and his 'heroes' made for a good-news-afternoon at the Winsome as they caught up over drinks and compared stories.
"I just walked over the bridge to get here and I can't imagine trying to take cover behind that guard rail," said Ms Kingma.
"You should see my car. I can't believe Jon was out in it."
Ms Hammond remembers Mr Ley's condition when she first saw him in the hotel.
"I could see Jon was suffering hypothermia but I've never seen someone go into shock like that," she said.
Mr Ley said it took inner strength to walk back across the bridge this week