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Glen's story


29 June 2023

As a long-haul truck driver, Glen Bennett was used to calling his family from the road to say goodnight.

So, in early August 2020, when Glen called his wife Roni to say goodnight from a truck stop near Bundaberg, he couldn’t have known that the next time he’d be calling her would be from an ambulance to say goodbye, because he thought he wasn’t going to make it.

Glen Bennett: So the morning of the accident, got up, went into Eagle Farm to the yard and got my truck, fuelled it up and hooked up to my trailers and, and took off, heading to Cairns.

Yeah, I got 60k roughly north of Gin Gin. And, I came around a bend and, I, I just saw this real dense looking fog.

I didn't know what it was, if it was fog or smoke. And uh, it all happened pretty quick, within a few seconds, there was just these trailer back doors just right there and I didn't know if I'd caught up to a truck going slow.

I didn't know what, what it was. And then just all of a sudden, bang, I got knocked out and then I woke up and when I woke up, the inside of the truck, including myself, was all on fire. So I jiggled myself around and managed to jiggle myself a bit over the, over the window until gravity took over and then I fell out.

And, I rolled a couple of times because I, I knew I was on fire. When I did my first roll this left arm actually bent backwards and I knew that there was something wrong with that and um, I just laid there.

So I don't know how long I was lying on the road for, but it would've been a while. It would've been probably a good hour. And then, yeah, I got in the ambulance and asked the lady for her phone to ring my wife and I, I just, I wanted to say goodbye 'cause I thought that was it. I thought I was dead.

I broke my jaw in three places, broke my cheekbone, eight broken ribs, broke my elbow, broke my forearm, and broke my shoulder when I landed on the road. And then, yeah, 70 per cent burns.

Anita Bevis: When his claim first came in, and I saw all these injuries and speaking with his wife, Roni, in the early days, not knowing if he was going to make it. I still remember the first conversation I had with him once he was discharged from rehab and to see where he has gotten from there and from the beginning, it is just really great.

Glen Bennett: I always have set myself goals, which has really helped me to get through everything. And that just helps me mentally because I know I'm doing good, I'm getting better.

I always looked at it that the money that WorkCover was paying me, I was getting paid to get better. You know, I was getting paid to go to the gym and rehab and I was getting paid to go to the hospital and learn to walk. And that's how I've looked at it. It, that's my job at the moment.

I think it's the peace of mind of having that wage still coming in. We've got bills and we all know how tough it's getting at the moment, so I would've had to have sell up if I didn't have WorkCover.

Anita Bevis: WorkCover work really closely with NIISQ, so although Glen is with NIISQ and they're essentially funding his treatment, care and support, I'm in contact with his support planner there. I'm always across what's happening.

His support planner from NIISQ and I went out recently to see him at the hospital to see him walk on his prosthetics. And so we're really working closely alongside them.

Glen Bennett: NIISQ helped fund the growth of the house. The house grew by about 70 square metres after my accident. They've funded my car to be decked out. They decked it out with the hand controls.

I've got a lot of support at home here. My wife and, and my little boy, Hugo, they're both been amazing. Anita, my WorkCover case manager has been unreal and, and helped me with a lot.

So between WorkCover and NIISQ, there's been so much help and so much support and yeah, it's having a really good support network that's really, that's really one of the biggest things I think.

As he drove around 60km north of Gin Gin, Glen hit a dense patch of fog or smoke as he came around a bend.

Visibility was non-existent on that stretch of the Bruce Highway, and as Glen slowed down, his truck slammed into the back doors of another truck stopped on the road, knocking him unconscious.

‘I thought I was dead’

When he woke up, the inside of his truck, including his own body were engulfed in flames.

Glen threw himself out of the window of his truck, a split-second decision that ultimately saved his life.

Glen suffered burns to 70 per cent of his body, and broke his jaw, cheekbone, ribs, elbow and forearm in the crash. He also broke his shoulder due to the impact of his body hitting the road from the height of his truck.

In the back of an ambulance on the way to Gladstone Hospital, Glen made an unthinkable phone call.

“I got in the ambulance and asked the lady for her phone to ring my wife and I just wanted to say goodbye because I thought that was it. I thought I was dead.”

‘Not knowing if he was going to make it’

WorkCover case manager Anita Bevis received Glen’s claim while he was still in an induced coma in ICU.

Glen woke up after 24 days in an induced coma to learn that both his legs had had to be amputated due to the severity of the burns. He then spent seven months on the burns ward at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, before undertaking seven weeks of intensive rehabilitation.

‘One step forward, two steps back’

Now, nearly three years on from the accident, it’s been a steep but steady road to recovery with many setbacks, but Glen’s positive mindset and strong support network have been crucial.

Rehab is still a central part of Glen’s life. He’s learning to walk on prosthetics, a process made more difficult by the severity of his burns and the position where his legs were amputated.

Glen says setting himself smaller goals has helped him to focus on what’s right in front of him.

“I always have set myself goals, which has really helped me to get through everything. And that just helps me mentally because I know I'm doing good, I'm getting better,” he said.

WorkCover has covered Glen’s wages while he’s been unable to work, while NIISQ, the National Injury Insurance Scheme Queensland, will cover his treatment, care and support for life.

The support of his five-year-old son Hugo and his wife Roni has been crucial to his recovery, and as he adjusts to a new normal, Glen is grateful for the small silver linings. These days, he gets to pick Hugo up from school and tuck his son into bed, after many goodnights said over the phone.

Glen also encourages anyone who is struggling with the effects of a physical injury to seek the mental health help they need for their recovery.

“The biggest thing is your head… which for me is having a really good support network, that’s really one of the biggest things. It really starts with your head, because if you’re not in a good headspace, you’re not going to put in the effort, or feel like yourself,” Glen said.

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