HALIFAX - Just call him lucky.
Banged and bruised and lying in a hospital bed with several broken ribs, some severe cuts and generally feeling "quite sore," Stuart (Stu) Mills is nonetheless willing to stack his good fortune up against just about anybody.
"I'm feeling very lucky," the 48-year-old Bass River resident said from his bed in the QEII hospital Tuesday afternoon.
"Right now I'm probably the luckiest guy in Colchester County."
And who could argue?
Mills is the commissionaire who was working at the Cobequid Pass Monday morning when a five tonne-truck came screaming in and slammed into his toll booth.
It took emergency crews about 40 minutes to free him from the wreckage before he was airlifted to Halifax. But other than being held at the hospital for more testing to determine whether he has internal bruising, Mills said he expects to be released today.
"I broke three ribs," he said, adding he also has some "serious lacerations and some not so serious," a badly banged up hand which medical staff initially thought was broken and other bruising. But speaking by telephone from his hospital bed, Mills was in excellent spirits and more than happy to be still alive.
He recalls nothing of the actual crash, just the events leading up to it.
"We were starting lunch (shifts) ... and I can remember somebody saying, and a few adjectives added, that that guy was moving really fast and apparently there were a couple of vehicles in my lane," he said, recalling the moment as it had been told to him by others at the scene.
"I told them they had to move their cars, I guess, I don't remember any of this. And then I looked up and I remember the front of the truck coming through the toll booth. As soon as I saw the truck coming through the toll booth I blacked out 'til I came to again (about 45 minutes later)," he said.
"When I looked up when I came to I was probably about four feet away from the wheel of the truck."
Mills is married with two daughters, Angela, 27, and Crystal 26. He said his wife Sheila heard initial reports about the accident on the news and when she received a call from a co-worker saying he had been involved in a bad accident "she sort of figured the worst."
"So she was quite happy to find out I was I still on the right side of the grass."
Mills has worked as a full-time commissionaire at the toll booth for more than four years and before that on a part time basis since 1999.
He is heavily involved in sports within Truro, including serving as vice-president of Truro Minor Lacrosse.
In that capacity, Mills said those who know him well know him as a "pretty intense guy that way."
And if there is an aspect of his life that will change following the accident, it will mean being "a little more happy-go-lucky, I guess," Mills said.
"Maybe it's not quite so necessary to be so intense."