Dad had arm torn off by propeller but heroes stepped in to save him

A man whose arm was ripped off by a propeller in a horror accident nearly 50 years ago says he now wants to find and thank the people who saved his life.

Darren Peel and his family had been on a trip to Southport, Lancashire, in July 1975 when they decided to take go for a flight on a plane to see the resort from the air.

Young Darren had been holding the pilot’s hand when he suddenly ran off to the front of the idle aircraft and into its propeller, which instantly severed his arm.

Thanks to the emergency services and staff at the nearby Broadgreen Hospital his life was saved, although the arm could not be reattached.

Darren, now 53, said he remembers “shock overcoming the pain” and his dad saying “for Christ sake don’t fall asleep” when he rushed to his side to help.

Now living in Darwen, near Blackburn, Darren told the Liverpool Echo: “We’d gone out for a day trip and wanted to go on the pleasure trip, on the plane. I remember being excited as a five-year-old and my dad and my sister and another friend had already boarded the aircraft.

“I held the pilot’s hand and let go and went round from the back of the aeroplane to the front and that’s when it got my arm.

“The shock overcame the pain to be honest with you. I remember my dad jumped out the aircraft and obviously came to me and he rammed his body into mine to try and stop the flow of blood. I remember him saying ‘for Christ sake don’t fall asleep’.”

Darren remembers being taken to Southport Infirmary for a blood transfusion and later being escorted by police to Broadgreen Hospital for further care. After two operations, there was hope that his left arm could be reattached, but the treatment was unsuccessful.

Darren, who worked for Royal Mail, said: “Unfortunately it didn’t take. I think at that time reattachment of limbs was pretty much in its infancy, they’d never tried it before. I think there’s a quote somewhere of it not being tried before. And ok it didn’t and to be honest I’m very positive, I’m a very positive person.

“It didn’t happen and I’ve lived with that for all this time and I have no regrets on that, none at all. I’ve always managed all these years, it’s been 47 years. I just adapted.

“After the accident occurred I saw a helicopter on the beach and the ironic thing is I’ve got a real interest in helicopters and photography. I love going to the Southport Air Show.”

At the time, Darren’s story was widely covered in the newspapers and over the years, he’s shared updates on his life. In 1977, damages were also awarded to Darren.

Darren said: “I do have an artificial limb and my colleagues at Royal Mail helped raised funds for a new prosthetic arm. They raised over £20,000.

“I don’t think the NHS was investing much money into the prosthetics until my colleagues raised those funds and highlighted the situation. However, I managed to get it on the NHS and the money they raised at work went to two charities, one was Bolton Hospice and the other one was Derian House.”

Nearly 50 years on, Darren wants to thank all those at Broadgreen Hospital and other members of the emergency services for saving his life.

He would also like to hear from family members of anyone who helped him if they remember his story and their loved ones are now deceased.

Darren said: “If those people are still alive today, I would love to thank them and anyone else who was involved, anyone on the intensive care unit, any of the nurses who were on the men’s wards at that time. All the people who were involved in my care.

“They saved my life at the end of the day and the police officers involved back then, getting me to Broadgreen.”

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