The family of a Mansfield-born man have described the horrifying moment they found a photo of their bloodied son being helped from the wreckage of the Spanish train crash.
The disaster last Wednesday left 79 people dead, and when news filtered through that a British national had been on board, the mother of 38-year-old Mark Woodward feared the worst.
Lynne Spencer, of Fairholme Drive, Mansfield, attempted to contact Mark, who has lived with his family in northern Spain for the past few years.
Her husband, and Mark’s stepfather, Bob Spencer, spoke to Chad this week, and said: “Knowing what mothers are like, when she heard about the crash in Spain she tried ringing Mark, texting him and emailing and got no response.
“She had no idea that he was even on a train, but knew something was wrong. She did not sleep that night.
“The police knocked on the door of his dad’s at 7am and then he rang us. It was just total shock.
“My wife was so shaken, I went on the internet and looked at the photographs from the site, and the fourth one I got to was Mark. I couldn’t believe it.”
The high-speed train derailed near to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain last Wednesday night.
The death toll reached 79 by the weekend, and the driver, 52-year-old Francisco Garzón, has been provisionally charged with multiple counts of negligent homicide.
Shocking CCTV footage of the crash shows the train approaching a bend before the carriage immediately behind the engine derailed and dragged the trailing carriages off the track.
It is unknown which carriage Mark, a former pupil at All Saints’ RC School in Mansfield, had been a passenger in. But he had suffered a broken pelvis, broken ribs, cuts to his head and body, and surgeons had to remove his spleen.
It is thought he was thrown forwards over a table at the moment of impact.
Two photographs were released of Mark, the first of him being helped away from the train by two men. A second emerged of him sat next to the track, close to a dead body, and with a local lady who sat with him until help arrived.
His mother, sister and father flew out to Spain to be by his bedside. He was initially in intensive care but has begun to make improvements.
His stepfather said he was finally able to speak his first words on Monday. His car keys were even found among the wreckage and returned to him earlier this week.
Bob continued: “You couldn’t tell how badly damaged Mark was by looking at the photo, but you could tell it was bad. The adrenalin must have been flowing through him when he got out of the wreckage, that’s why he was able to get through the pain at the time.
“We hope it’s not long-term injuries but having a spleen removed is long term. He is on morphine for the pain.
“His mother has not left his side since she got there.
“We are just grateful to the consulate and the Embassy for getting in touch with us so quickly and making arrangements.
“We’d like to thank all of his friends as well for tweeting and going on Facebook and leaving messages.
“He can’t read them yet but he will have a nice surprise when he can.”
Mark moved to Spain seven years ago after he secured a job as a salesman for an English firm selling haulage backloads. Married, he has a young son and lives close to his parents-in-law.
He is a Mansfield Town fan and even worked for the club after leaving school.
Friend Chris Walsh went to school with Mark, played for the same football team, and regularly goes for a drink with him when he flies back over to Britain, quite often for Mansfield Town games.
“When I saw it on the news I could not believe it, I was half concentrating and I heard his name,” Chris said.
“It was just a feeling of disbelief.
“It’s almost typically Mark, he is always involved! It’s amazing when you see the footage and the photographs how anyone walked away.”