THE Director of an award-winning local charity was inches from death this week after her car became engulfed by flames.
A fortnight ago Carolyn Tailford, of A Safe Space to be Me, welcomed VIPs to the charity’s Crumlin Hub after it was announced that they had received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
This week, however, she has hit the headlines following a miraculous escape on a remote rural road.
Carolyn was returning to Crumlin after an appointment in Antrim when her white BMW car suddenly began to lose power.
Seconds later smoke began belching from under the bonnet and started filling the car.
The natural instinct would be to abandon the vehicle and run to safety - but that was not an option as she was travelling along a treacherous S bend on the Ballyquillan Road.
Determined not to leave the stricken vehicle in a spot where another unsuspecting motorist could plough into it, she bravely attempted to steer it to relative safety.
An eyewitness later confirmed it was indeed a ‘life or death situation’.
“I’d say many lives were potentially saved by the Carolyn’s actions,” he said.
“By taking the car on round the bend, risking her own life, she may have saved the lives of many others.
“If cars had of hit the white BMW lives could have been lost and the consequences could have been devastating.”
But she was not out of the woods just yet.
With her car just off the S bend, she scrambled to get herself and her passenger out of the car just as flames began to emerge from the bonnet.
And it was just in the nick of time, for within minutes the entire vehicle was ablaze.
The police and the Fire and Rescue Service were alerted and were on the scene from Antrim within eight minutes.
“They responded very quickly, but it felt like an absolute life time as flames engulfed the car,” Carolyn told the Guardian.
“With queues of cars forming both ways on the road and tyres blowing out the situation was becoming increasingly dangerous.
“Thankfully the fire service were soon on scene and had the situation in hand.
“I can't praise the actions of the fire brigade, members of the public and Siobhain the other Director who came to the rescue and helped with stopping traffic on what is a dangerous road.”
Carolyn’s car was subject to an urgent recall by BMW at the end of March because of faulty EGR valves across her model - a fault that is known to cause electrical vaults and, in rare cases, fires.
“The fire brigade have confirmed the fire was started by an electrical fault and an investigation has been started to find out if this fire could have been prevented.”
Cars, of course, can be replaced - and the local woman has acknowledged that the outcome could have been much more serious.
“I had a bit of smoke inhalation and some serious shock, but otherwise I walked away relatively unscathed.
“I was very lucky. Very lucky indeed.”