Hero air stewardess helped to save HGV driver who crashed on M60 after having heart attack
A LORRY driver who suffered a heart attack behind the wheel has thanked the woman who saved his life. Melanie Tonge was in the passenger seat of her husband’s car when they saw an out-of-control vehicle ahead of them on the M60 in July. The HGV tractor unit veered from the slow lane into a barrier and then swerved across the road before crashing into the central reservation.
Dramatic video captured the crash and the aftermath. Miraculously, the unit avoided hitting any vehicles but it was clear to highly trained first aider Melanie that the driver had been taken ill.
The HGV tractor unit crashes into the central reservation on the M60 Melanie, 48, from Westhoughton, said: “I looked up and saw debris everywhere. “My instinct told me that for the driver to do that he must have been unconscious.
“I said to my husband John ‘stop the car’. “We pulled over on the hard shoulder and I just ran over to the lorry.” Traffic slowed following the collision at around 8pm on July 9 just past junction 13 on the clockwise carriageway and a number of cars stopped before occupants got out and rushed to the aid of the driver.
When Melanie – who has 18 years of experience of an air stewardess with advanced first aid training – got to the vehicle she was given a lift up to the front seats. She saw that the airbags had been set off and then went to check driver Shane Sharkey’s medical state. He looked in a “lifeless” condition and Melanie asked for help to lift him out of the lorry to start CPR.
Melanie made sure his airways were clear and asked a bystander to keep him in a safe position before she started performing chest compressions. Melanie Tonge, in the purple jacket, giving treatment to driver Shane Sharkey as he lies on the ground
Others then took turns with the compressions due to the “exhausting” nature of it. Police then arrived with a defibrillator and shocks were administered to him before paramedics arrived and he was taken to the Salford Royal Hospital. Shane, a HGV driver of around 20 years, was in a coma until the following evening and was discharged four days later.
Tests found the fit and healthy dad-of-two from Chorley had suffered a heart attack and cardiac arrest. Shane, 49, said: “I was driving along and it was just like a light switch clicked. “I don’t remember anything about what happened.
“The doctor said there was a flake in my heart and that grew and dropped off the back of my artery. “It is amazing that so many people stopped to help me and that my vehicle didn’t hit any others.” Shane still suffers from rib injuries due to the CPR but is otherwise feeling better and awaiting to be signed off by doctors to go back to work.
He met up with Melanie at Westhoughton coffee shop Amore on Thursday morning to thank her for her efforts. Melanie and Shane after meeting for a coffee
Reflecting on the incident, Melanie said: “I knew if I did not do anything he would die. “My husband is an ex HGV driver so I would have wanted someone else to do that if it happened to him. “As an air stewardess I have seen people have heart attacks and I also delivered my own son but I had never dealt with anyone that was unconscious and not breathing.
“I had 10 years off from being an air stewardess and only had my advanced aviation medicine training in March before I was set to go back to work. “It was nice to see Shane. At the coffee shop he bought me coffee and cake and the most beautiful flowers.
“He said it was the least he could do for saving his life.”
Melanie and John also reserved praise for the emergency service workers and bystanders who helped at the scene.
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