A brave Royal Marine Commando survived three tours of Afghanistan only to lose a leg in the UK – helping out at the scene of a road crash.
Colour Sergeant Lee Spencer, 45, lost the limb just hours after he was forced to change his own car tyre and tweeted, ‘can this day get any worse?’.
It did. Lee had returned home safely from the Middle East but just months later came across a BMW which had crashed in the central reservation of the M3.
He tended to the victims and tried to warn approaching cars with a torch but an Audi failed to stop – and ploughed into the wreckage.
Dad-of-two Lee was standing more than 200ft away but the impact tore the BMW’s engine free and sent it flying across several lanes – landing on him.
As he lay badly injured the fallen serviceman screamed “medic, medic” then gave bystanders enough medical direction to tie a tourniquet around his leg.
He remained conscious just long enough to save himself before waking up in hospital to be told his right leg needed to be amputated.
Eight months on he’s rebuilt his life and learned to walk on a prosthetic leg – but he doesn’t regret helping people in “mortal danger”.
Lee, who also served in Iraq and Northern Ireland for 3 Commando Brigade, said: “My immediate thought was well, I’m a first aider, if anyone is left in that car they are in mortal danger and I need to get them out.
“I pulled over onto the hard shoulder. There I saw two men and a woman who were originally in the car, and another person who had stopped to help.
“I made sure they were okay, and that no-one was left in the car.
“I then walked about 200 metres up the hard shoulder using my phone as a torch to try and make drivers aware of the accident.”
Lee, of Plymouth, Devon, said he remembers hearing a loud “bang” before hearing people screaming.
He was then “hit” by something – which he at first thought was a car but turned out to be the BMW’s engine.
The impact knocked Lee over the roadside barrier and onto a grass verge.
He said: “I came to a stop, and I was thinking I could feel myself moving and I could hear people screaming.
“I looked down and saw my left leg at right angles to my body, my right leg was barely still attached.
“I guess it was my training because I started shouting ‘medic, medic’ without thinking where I was.
“I could see I had a catastrophic bleed in my right leg. I knew from my medical training that I had to stop the bleeding fast.
“I knew I had four to six minutes before I was dead. I could feel the symptoms of shock coming on.”
Lee’s wife, Claire, 47, spoke of the moment she learned of the accident – when he called her on his mobile phone from the scene.
She said: “He rang me and said he’d ‘been in an accident’, and then hung up – he later said he didn’t want me to just get a knock at the door with someone bringing the news.
“Apparently he was telling people how to save his life. That was the Royal Marine training in him.
“Everyone was panicking and he was just so calm telling people how to tie a tourniquet using a belt.
“He even helped the paramedics when they arrived. It’s unbelievable really but that’s how Lee is.”
Lee’s left leg was also dislocated in the crash and had to be completely reconstructed.
And yet as he recovered at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, southwest London, he remained positive and posed for an inspirational ‘thumb’s up’ picture in his bed.
He spent five weeks there before undergoing rehabilitation at Devonport Naval Base’s Hasler Company.
Claire said her husband is a true “hero” in every since of the word.
The mum, who works for West Devon Borough Council, said: “He’s served in Afghanistan three times, as well as tours in Northern Ireland and Iraq.
“He’s served his country. He comes back unscathed from war, and then loses his leg on leave while helping someone.
“He just amazes me. We’ve been together for 28 years, and married for 21 years, and he’s always amazed me.
“He is inspirational to others – a lot of others – but to me and our children he’s just amazing.
“He has dark days, which is understandable, but he just gets up and gets on with it.”
Before the horrific accident Lee was an avid charity fundraiser, raising £11,000 last year after running back to back marathons in aid of Dominic Lovett, who was paralysed from the neck down while on exercise in Norway.
Lee, who’s now thinking of new ways to raise funds for his injured comrades, said: “My main aim is to continue with the rehab and I want to use the experience to help others
“It’s been far from a totally negative experience I’ve done three tours of Afghanistan, and an untold amount of patrols.
“Every soldier who has done that and gone outside the gate, you’ve mentally prepared yourself for an injury like this.
“I think that mentality is still in me. Bizarrely it wasn’t a massive shock for this to happen to me.
“I look at other marines and they’ve been in a worse position than me. I feel like I have no excuse but to get on with my life. You can’t just wallow in self pity.”
The accident happened 18 months after he returned from Afghanistan and was based in Britain.