Justin Morgan (James Stewart) is beside himself in Home and Away when Leah Patterson (Ada Nicademou) is left with life-threatening injuries after a tragic car crash.
The couple’s car collides with that of bride-to-be Felicity Newman’s (Jacqui Purvis), who is on her way to wed soulmate Tane Parata (Ethan Browne).
Eden (Stephanie Panozzo), who is driving the wedding vehicle, attempts to brake, to no avail, after encountering a sluggish van in the road.
Felicity, horrified, urges her best mate to slow down, so – in a bid to avoid a collision with the van – Eden swerves into oncoming traffic, which is ultimately when tragedy strikes, with their car smashing into Justin and Leah’s.
Justin comes to shortly afterwards, disoriented, but he soon realises that Leah has been seriously injured in the collision, which leaves him fearful that she’s going to die.
‘The first thing [Justin thinks] is: “This can’t be real”, actor James Stewart told Metro.co.uk of the harrowing scenes. ‘He’s looking at a human body with a stake going through her stomach, it’s just not something you see every day.
‘He couldn’t compute. He can hear the voice and see, so he just stepped into “how do I fix this?” mode.
‘He calls the ambulance and keeps pressure on the wound so that she doesn’t lose too much blood, I think he probably prays a bit! He’s just sitting there talking to God going: “Please God! I will never mess up again if you just get the ambulance here as quickly as possible”.’
James told us that he was ‘loving’ filming all the action sequences involved in the huge week, but admitted that he took it very ‘serious’ given what happens.
‘As an actor, I know I did, you have to look at your partner and see them in such a tragic way, close to death, and imagine that this is your circumstance,’ the soap star said.
‘There was a serious tone. I spoke to a lot of ambulance officers and people like that to find what would be the order of events to play the moment as honestly as possible.’
Getting Leah to the hospital is, of course, the most pressing thing on Justin’s mind, but the mechanic soon has other things to worry about after Cash (Nicholas Cartwright), whose sister and girlfriend are injured in the collision, blames him for the faulty brakes, unaware that the bikies are actually to blame.
‘Justin’s beside himself,’ admitted James, discussing his character’s reaction to Cash’s accusation.
‘He’s like “this can’t be real because we fixed the car together”. At work, it’s probably the only place Justin does everything methodical and by the book. He knows he fixed the car right, so to have Cash standing there accusing him – and screaming at him – it’s just crushing.’
The outcome of the huge and unmissable week remains to be seen, but James warns viewers that there will be plenty of aftermath in the months ahead.
‘I was thinking about this!’, he said. ‘Moving forward, I think the key thing is what would you do if you thought your loved one was going to die and how would you live your life afterwards?
‘Obviously there is the physical rehab that has to happen, but psychologically, what does Justin do to change his life because he almost lost the love of his life?’.
Home and Away air weekdays at 1:45pm on Channel 5, with first look episodes airing at 6:30pm on 5Star.
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