Hero Paul returns to scene of horrific crash

Paul with Clare Grogan
Paul with Clare Grogan

To probably hundreds of local people Kirkintilloch man Paul Surgeon is a popular and successful hairdresser – but he’s also a real life hero.

On Monday, Paul’s friends, family and regular customers will be tuned in to STV’s Scotland’s Real Heroes to see him paying a return visit to the site of a horrific 2012 crash.

It had been an ordinary day for him when, driving on the Twechar to Kilsyth Road, he and another man, John Whiteford, were shocked to see a car leave the road and smash into a tree.

The vehicle burst into flames and the people inside appeared to be trapped.

The two men immediately realised they were facing a desperate race against time.

John somehow managed to rip a car seat free while the vehicle burned – and badly injured his back in the process – and together with Paul managed to rescued Caitlin McKinlay, then aged 18, and Kirkintilloch man Gary Grant, also from Kirkintilloch, who was 26 at the time

Another passenger, Joanne McCormack, had managed to escape from the car but was shocked and confused.

The vehicle then exploded and was engulfed in flames just 15 seconds after the injured victims were brought to safety.

Nobody who was there has any doubt Gary and Caitlin would almost certainly have died.

Gary was left paralysed from the chest down, while Caitlin initially needed a spinal brace, after suffering from a broken back, neck, leg and arm.

Now Paul, 25, is one of just three people being tipped for the STV show’s special Courage award.

Paul said: “I honestly acted on instinct – you could see what was happening so clearly. People were going to be burned alive unless we did something.

“Now, three years later, I was met by actress and singer Clare Grogan (who narrates the story on the show), who took me back to that spot in a limousine – we spent the whole day filming.

“It’s sad that Gary was so badly injured, but things could obviously have been so much worse. Caitlin is driving her own car now, and that terrible accident is in the past.”

He says that on one level revisiting the scene was a challenge, but that because everyone survived he’s glad he played a part in bringing them to safety.

Along with others featured in the series Paul was chosen by a special jury, and the overall winner in each category will be chosen by viewers.

The programme is at 8pm on STV on Monday.