A man who is lucky to be alive after suffering life-threatening injuries in a hit-and-run incident in County Durham is taking part in the Great North Run with his father to raise funds for the charity that helped save his life.

Corey Russell, 20, had been on a night out with his friends and was walking back to his home in Croxdale when he was involved in a collision with a car on September 3, 2023, in Tudhoe.

In the incident, Corey suffered three fractures in his spine, a fractured sternum, a shattered and dislocated shoulder blade, a broken left arm, a severe laceration on his right arm, lacerations to his kidney, liver and spleen, damage to his stomach and colon and a broken pelvis and hip.

The Northern Echo: Corey RussellCorey Russell (Image: GNAAS)

His mother, Claire Russell, 43, was home alone at the time, as the rest of the family were busy with prior commitments, and she received the dreaded knock on the door from the police at about 5.25am about her son being injured.

She said: “I looked out of the window and saw the police car and the officers heading straight to my door. When I answered I said, “Which one is it?” They said it was Corey and I asked where I needed to go and get him, but then they said he had life-threatening injuries.”

Durham Police was first on the scene and contacted the critical care team at the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) and requested their assistance.

The Northern Echo: Chad and Corey Russell Chad and Corey Russell (Image: GNAAS)

Due to the incident taking place before 8am, a paramedic and doctor from GNAAS travelled to the scene in a rapid response vehicle, as they only travel via helicopter during daylight hours.

While they were en route, the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) arrived on scene and began assessing and treating Corey’s injuries.

GNAAS paramedic Ian Grey said: “The NEAS crew did a superb job treating Corey, but he needed interventions that only we could provide.

The Northern Echo: Ben Sisson, specialist fundraiser, Corey Russell and his grandparents and GNAAS paramedic Ian GreyBen Sisson, specialist fundraiser, Corey Russell and his grandparents and GNAAS paramedic Ian Grey (Image: GNAAS)

“After our own assessment, it was clear Corey's condition was critical, therefore we immediately commenced with a blood transfusion and decided that we would have to anaesthetise Corey to put him in a medically induced coma to secure his airway and to protect his brain from further injury.”

Once Corey was stabilised, he was carried to NEAS’ road ambulance, and driven to Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), with GNAAS‘ critical care team accompanying him.

Corey underwent seven hours of surgery and spent a total of three weeks in hospital before returning home.

The Northern Echo: Corey Russell and GNAAS paramedic Ian GreyCorey Russell and GNAAS paramedic Ian Grey (Image: GNAAS)

The family have raised more than £2,400 for GNAAS and now Corey and his dad Chad Russell will take part in the Great North Run to raise even more money as well as awareness of the charity.

Corey said: “Supporting GNAAS is important to me as I was involved in a serious accident which left me with serious life-changing injuries. Thanks to GNAAS I’m not only still here but I’m recovering.

“My recovery has been difficult, not just for me but also for my family, but thanks to their support and the amazing medical community I’m recovering better than we could have expected.”

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Mr Russell, Corey's dad, 40, added: “I owe so much to GNAAS for their part in saving our Corey's and many others lives.”

Corey has since been reunited with paramedic Ian and met him a couple of times at the charity’s base near Eaglescliffe.

He said: “Going to the base to meet Ian and all the amazing team was great and also very emotional. I got to meet my hero first-hand and thank him. He made me feel very welcome and privileged to still be here. I will be forever in his and GNAAS's debt.”