Putney man who was shot by a police officer and battled to change Commonwealth gun laws tells his story
Shot by a police officer, and twice pronounced dead, a carpenter spent the next 12 years forcing through changes to gun laws in the Commonwealth.
Craig Hartwell, 45, from Putney, was just 24 and newly married when he nearly died after being shot by a police officer on a paradise island, where he lived, in Virgin Gorda, in 1993.
Since then he has had multiple relapses, 45 operations and fought a 12 year court battle to get justice by tightening firearms control and clarifying the duty of care owed by the police to the general public.
He set up a charity with a woman left wheelchair bound following a car crash, called Get a Life, which helps people cope with their disabilities and he has published his story, not only to entertain but educate people about gun crime.
Mr Hartwell’s battles throughout the years have inspired him to pursue a career in politics in the future and he also hopes to turn his story into a film.
He said: "One night after a silly argument with my wife I went for a drink on my own to the Bath and Turtle. A calypso band were playing on the open-air dance floor. It was a typical, wonderful, sultry Caribbean night.
"Suddenly there was the sound of fire crackers set off on the dance floor. I turned to see what was happening. As I turned I felt a huge thud in the centre of my back and collapsed to the floor.
"I couldn’t breathe and I noticed the floor change colour as a fast growing circle at my chest expanded and went across the floor. It was blood.
"I had collapsed onto my side and split my head open. Virgin Gorda is a very small island with no hospital. I was put on a bed and taken across the sea to another island with facilities.
"But they forgot to put fuel in the boat. It stopped in the middle of the sea and we were adrift. Eventually we limped into an intermediate port."
Eventually Mr Hartwell got to a hospital in Tortola, the capital of the British Virgin Islands, where he was operated on without any general anaesthetic.
He added: "It is a very traumatic to see your own chest cut open. I have bad memories of that night which linger with me to this day.
"It was a miracle I survived. I technically died twice and I saw the tunnel many people speak of when they are close to death."
For more information visit indiegogo.com/projects/here-s-your-island-paradise or to order a copy of the book visit the-hyip.com
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