Mates recall day they stared death in the face

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser

As young men around the State gather on football grounds to pause for a moment and acknowledge those who have died on WA roads this weekend, side by side Kris Cramer and Bodhi Stubber will know it could also have been them.

Belt Up Round in the Great Southern Football League and other country leagues this weekend takes on greater significance for the Railways Football Club teammates who survived a horror head-on smash last year.

The crash on South Coast Highway on January 23, 2016, affected four families but fortunately the five occupants of the two cars survived thanks to their seatbelts.

The close mates were returning home together from a fishing trip on the Saturday morning before they momentarily stared death in the face but luckily escaped with serious injuries.

Although football is the avenue the Insurance Commission of WA chooses to use to highlight the message to young men they are over-represented in road fatality statistics, the sport has taken a back seat for both men since that day.

“After playing footy and something like that happens you really appreciate life a bit more and footy is just a hobby that we have got to be able to do again,” Mr Stubber, 22, said yesterday.

All involved were seriously injured and faced long rehabilitation in hospital.

Mr Cramer suffered a compound leg fracture and multiple lacerations from embedded glass, and Mr Stubber’s liver was lacerated, along with abdomen bruising.

Mr Cramer, a 28-year-old father of two, spent the entire season on the sidelines recovering while his mate recovered to play the season.

Visiting the crash site for the first time since the accident yesterday, both men acknowledged their teammates and families could have been remembering them this weekend.

“I suppose you know the importance of seatbelts by being involved in this because we both would have been dead if we didn’t have them on,” Mr Cramer said.

“Quite often I look through photos on my phone and think ‘we were pretty lucky’.”

“I can remember the whole thing, it was just such a split-second thing,” Mr Stubber said.

The round already holds significance for Railways, having lost clubmen Sean Plaisted in 2001 and Leon Brodala in 2005 in crashes.

Mr Cramer said being able to run onto the field this weekend with his mates would carry extra meaning.

“ It’s a privilege to be able to play footy again. You relish every game you can.”

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