Margaret Townsend is recovering after an ordeal that left her stranded on an isolated property with a shattered ankle for hours.
Margaret Townsend is recovering after an ordeal that left her stranded on an isolated property with a shattered ankle for hours. Contributed

Woman's horror ordeal after accident: 'I felt bone on bone'

SHE was alone, on an isolated property, with a shattered ankle and the chill of a mid-winter night closing in.

For hours Tara's Margaret Townsend had crawled and rolled around her property, searching for a way to call for help.

After hours without success, dehydrated and distraught, it was her CCTV system that came to the rescue.

Three weeks ago Ms Townsend was busy with a spot of gardening. Her family was away for work and she needed to move about 60kg of potting mix.

She got it into a wheelbarrow, and the 54-year-old was pulling it behind her when everything came - literally - toppling down.

The handle of the wheelbarrow came down full force on her ankle, snapping it. It fractured both her tibia and fibia.

"I heard it pop," she said.

"With all the noise of the wheelbarrow I still heard something go when it broke."

Ms Townsend managed to pick the wheelbarrow handle up and pull herself free but though there was no blood and plenty of adrenaline, she knew things were bad when she started crawling toward her house and could feel "what felt like bone against bone".

She reached the house, but to get inside she'd need to climb the stairs. At the time, such a feat was simply impossible.

All she could think was "why didn't I bring my phone?"

She'd already crawled about 30m to her house, but the dirt and gravel took their toll.

So Ms Townsend resorted to rolling, this time about 30m to her gate, and a little farther away was her car. She eventually made it, but couldn't get in.

"I'm not sure what I thought I was going to do when I got in it," she said.

After an attempt to stand left her back in the dust, she steeled herself for more rolling - this time about 60m down her driveway.

It might not sound like much, but when you're rolling it with a broken ankle, it's agony.

"I sat up the driveway waiting for cars to go past, but our driveway is about 150m long and I wasn't going to roll up to the front of it because it had started to get later," she said.

Ever the fighter, she used a broom handle to wave a reflective top she'd been wearing in the hopes of catching someone's eye.

Though three cars went past, no one saw her. Her closest neighbour was more than a kilometre away.

By the time the sun was setting Ms Townsend was forced to give up and rolled back up the driveway to her shed, to find somewhere warmer to stay.

She managed to get into the laundry where two of her puppies were housed, and used their blankets - old horse rugs - to try to keep warm on the harsh concrete floor.

"Come that time, once I stopped moving I started cooling down, and it was freezing, I was freezing. Then I waited," she said.

Adrenaline only lasts so long, and it had long worn off. Throughout the afternoon Ms Townsend had rolled and jolted her ankle all about her yard.

"The rolling wasn't fun at times. I had to watch the leg and make sure I didn't put it in the wrong place or anything but I felt bone on bone every now and again and give a little cry."

As she lay in her laundry Ms Townsend still had hope. Her family - though they were away at work - check the home's CCTV footage on their phones every night.

When they discovered the house lights off and the car door open they knew something was wrong. After rewinding the surveillance footage they found video of Ms Townsend sitting by the car.

"They thought I'd actually had a heart attack," she said.

In short order her family had called police, the ambulance, and the neighbour to come to her rescue.

That was at 8.15pm - seven hours after the horror accident.

To hear a car pulling in was, for Ms Townsend, an utter relief.

She was taken to Tara Hospital before going on to Dalby the next day, and finally to Toowoomba Hospital. She had surgery and has spent the past couple of weeks in Tara Hospital recovering.

She said a highlight was being flown back from Toowoomba by the RFDS.

It was Ms Townsend's first time in an aeroplane.

"They were so nice, the RFDS, a big shout out to them, the ambulance people, all the staff here at Tara, have just been really really understanding," she said.

As for her gardening, once she's back up and about Ms Townsend has plans to change up her strategy.

"I'll get my son to move the potting mix from now on when I want it moved! And take my phone with me all the time," she said.

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