Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ wife says she thought he was going to die after he fractured his spine and broke several ribs in a fall.
The couple released a video on social media ahead of Mr Andrews’ return to work on Monday, describing how he slipped on stairs while getting ready for work at a Mornington Peninsula holiday rental on March 9.
“As I put my foot on to the first step. I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t really connect with the step it just slid straight off, I became airborne almost,” Mr Andrews says in the four-and-a-half-minute video.
“Then all I can hear is just this almighty crunch.
“When I heard the crunch, I knew. I thought this is serious, we’re in trouble here.”
Before I come back to work tomorrow, I thought I would share what happened. In my own words. pic.twitter.com/RkJcvPTYyu
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) June 27, 2021
Mr Andrews said he couldn’t call out to his wife, Cath, because he couldn’t breathe.
“She comes and finds me a few moments later, it felt like an eternity,” he said.
“It was awful because you were going blue, and we were looking at each other and I was thinking, you are going to die here in Sorrento at this holiday house,” Ms Andrews said in the video.
“You’re looking at me and you felt the same.”
The 48-year-old was taken to the Peninsula Private Hospital by ambulance before he being taken to The Alfred trauma centre in Melbourne.
In an interview with the Herald Sun, Mr Andrews said he requested a transfer by road ambulance rather than a helicopter to avoid the appearance of special treatment.
“By the time he got here he was in respiratory failure. It was more than just a simple injury,” The Alfred’s head of trauma Professor Mark Fitzgerald told the paper.
X-rays revealed Mr Andrews sustained an acute compression fracture of the T7 vertebra and broke several ribs, which caused the lower sections of his lungs to collapse.
According to government sources, he narrowly avoided permanent and “life-changing” spinal cord damage.
He was placed on breathing machines for two days to provide oxygen.
He said he avoided permanent, life-changing spinal cord damage by “one millimetre”.
Mr Andrews was discharged from hospital on March 15 and has been recovering at home since.
In the video, the couple thank everyone involved in his recovery, including Mr Andrews’ personal protective detail – who were among the first on the scene – as well as physios, paramedics, doctors and nurses.
“There’s something very special about those people. They are the best of us,” Mr Andrews said.
“As painful as difficult as traumatic as it was, we’re very lucky.”
He also thanked the tens of thousands of Victorians who had sent letters, cards, emails and messages wishing him well, describing it as the “best medicine”.
“When you have a traumatic moment in your life you kind of reassess things, you work out, you remind yourself of the things that are really really important,” Mr Andrews said.
“Family is important, but so too is delivering for every family, working hard for every single Victorian family. That’s the oath I swore. That’s the job I’ve got.”
He said he was “fit, strong and healthy” and would stand again at the November 2022 state election.
“I’m running and I’m running to win. There’s unfinished business and I’m determined to get it done,” Mr Andrews said.