Marathon challenge for injured cops

TWO police officers who are lucky to be alive are linking up for a major challenge.

Stevenage-based Pc Gareth Rees and Pc David Rathband, the Northumbrian officer who was left blind in both eyes when he was shot in the face by gunman Raoul Moat in July last year, are involved.

They have got together to take part in the London Marathon next month for the Blue Lamp Foundation – a charity set up to support members of all three emergency services injured on duty as a result of criminal action.

Pc Rees was severely injured in December 2008 when a vehicle collided with him following a road traffic collision on the A505 between Baldock and Royston.

He said: “It was about 10pm. One of those horrendous nights, dark and cold. We arrived at the scene and my colleague, Helen, went to see to the drivers while I coned one of the lanes off.

“The A505 is one of those roads you have respect for. You don’t take any chances and I was setting out cones from the grass verge.

“I had about two cones left when a Mondeo just stopped in lane two. I think they saw the collision up ahead and panicked. The last thing I remember is telling the person in the Mondeo to move on. As I did, a Corsa came towards us.

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“I can only think that the driver was transfixed by the blue lights. She moved into lane two and glanced off the Mondeo – heading straight for the grass verge at about 55 miles per hour.

“There was a screeching of brakes and then ‘bang’. She knocked me into the middle of next week.

“I thought I was on borrowed time. Next thing I knew, a couple of officers from Royston came running over. I remember Helen climbing down and supporting my shoulders and neck.

“I was taken to the Lister Hospital, straight into emergency surgery. Both legs were shattered. My left femur was in four pieces and the bone had come through the skin. My right leg also had four breaks.

“Both lungs collapsed during surgery and I woke up with a metal frame over my right leg and my left encased in plaster. It was almost like a Matrix moment – I felt like a medical experiment.”

Pc Rees was in hospital for four weeks, enduring six operations where rods and pins were inserted into both legs. There is further surgery planned.

“The driver of the Corsa, who was in her 60s, was convicted of careless driving,” he said.

“She received a fine and points on her licence and to my knowledge, she’s never driven again. She did get in touch with the crash investigation officers, wanting to meet me. To date, I haven’t been able to do that but who knows about the future?”

He says he is eternally grateful for the support he received from friends, family and colleagues and particularly his wife, who was three and a half months pregnant at the time of the accident.

After months of surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation which included learning to walk again, he returned to work in May 2009 and took up an administrative post but has recently returned to the road policing unit.

Despite his own difficulties, Pc Rees said he felt compelled to do something when he heard about the injuries sustained by Pc Rathband.

The pair spoke on the telephone and Pc Rees has since become very involved in the Blue Lamp Foundation – the charity set up by Pc Rathband.

“One day I jokingly suggested we should do the London Marathon together to raise funds for the Foundation. David took me seriously and now we’re going to do this incredible challenge. We’re lucky to be alive and that changes the way you look at things forever.”

To support the pair’s efforts, go to www.justgiving.com/PC-David-Rathband

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