Back in the Saddle with a Mission after Horror Crash
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The future was looking bright, a new year, new job, and a chance to prove myself as a team leader. It changed in an instant.
After picking up most members of my crew and en route to pick up the last member, we were involved in a HEAD ON motor vehicle accident.
It was between 03h30 and 03h45. I was driving the vehicle and recall being blinded by bright headlamps from an oncoming vehicle that had swerved onto my side of the road.
The driver of the vehicle was obviously drunk. I remember shouting out to my colleagues – I don’t remember the impact.
I awoke to find myself lying on the roadside and seeing the flash of the red and blue lights. I could hear the medical personnel and others talking and out of the corner of my eye, I could see the other vehicle in the distance. Some of my colleagues were walking around in front of me and others were lying on a stretcher on the pavement. I remember a voice saying that they would attend to me shortly and to lie still. I knew my leg was broken.
I had earlier observed it was in an awkward position.
We were all taken to the hospital and wheeled into the trauma unit. I obtained multiple injuries in the crash. ALL SIX of us were hurled out the windscreen on impact – some of my injuries include a fractured skull, a broken knee, a fractured pelvis etc. My orthopedic surgeon said that my knee was so badly fragmented that he had to insert a metal plate and eight screws to hold the bones in place.
I shared a ward with one of my colleagues who had brain injury. Seeing him lying there helpless,unresponsive and in a broken state,streghthened my will to recover.
My other colleague was in ICU and on a respirator.
After some time, I was discharged from hospital and returned home in a wheelchair. Later, I attended AURORA rehabilitation centre, learning to walk again. That was in 2003.
A few weeks later, I learnt that the other driver was trapped in his vehicle and died on the scene. I was also informed by members of the SAPS that I was being charged for culpable homicide. ALL THIS AND IT WASN’T EVEN MY FAULT. - BUT, the case had to go to the HIGH COURT. It was only when the RAF lawyers learnt that blood tests taken from the other driver that night, proved he was drunk, did they decide not to pursue the case.
To cut a long story short, I was eventually compensated AFTER THREE YEARS and still had to settle part of my legal costs. I was fortunate enough in that the Road Accident Fund settled the bulk of the costs -my h ospital bill alone ran into about R900000, not to mention other costs.
Five years down the line and I’M still paying the price. I am permanently disabled, my limb is short, I walk with a limp and have to live one day at a time, and am on medication.
You read about huge awards being made, believe you me, the bulk is legal fees, future hospitalization, medication etc. Incidentally, my medication bill runs into R40 000 per year.
There is no income from my side and no disability grant.
My ex firm could not take me back – I could no longer do the job I was hired to do.
Hell, I’m lucky and thankful that I am here to tell the tale, and, if this serves to make just one driver act more responsibly, then this will have served a purpose.
This is the real tragedy
One IRRESPONSIBLE DRIVER – 10 persons injured, averaged out @ 4 members per family - you do the math.
Quite a heavy price to pay – for something that wasn’t even your fault
The irony of it all is
The driver of the other vehicle was UNLICENSED;
The vehicle had been scrapped a few years earlier and sadly enough -
He was three times over the legal limit.
Perhaps you will allow me to say : " Please tell the 'powers that be' they should confiscate cars when a driver is found guilty of DD. Drivers will soon sober up if they know they will NOT be getting their cars back, the same way that innocent victims do not have a say."
Firoza. Cape Town .2009
Hi my name is Le-Ann and I’m a victim of a drunk driver. My accident happened in March 1996. My fiancé (at the time) and I were on our way to an engagement party in Blue Water Bay, Port Elizabeth. Unbeknown to us there was a school teacher, with an alcohol content of 0,19g/100ml, on the wrong side of the N2 freeway near the Swartkops on-ramp.
It was 8pm on a clear night, when we were driving on the N2 double carriageway. All of a sudden, the car in front of us suddenly swerved to avoid this man’s oncoming vehicle. The next thing we knew, the oncoming car was right in front of us…… all I can remember is looking up and seeing the car’s lights heading straight towards us. My fiancé tried to swerve to avoid a collision, but it was too late. The man’s vehicle hit my side of the car. My car was a right off.
I was taken to the Provincial Hospital for treatment, but was wrongly diagnosed. Two weeks later I had to have an emergency operation on my left foot talus bone. A 5cm screw was inserted into the bone as it was shattered and in great need of repair. I have lost 80% movement in the foot.
Seven years later operation number two happened, this time to remove the screw but then the doctor saw that the bones were rubbing against each other, causing bone bust to develop on the top of my foot. This will explain the big ugly protruding knob on the foot.
Due to extensive pain and the protruding ugly knob, operation number 3 is to take place this year. Other than loosing the foot this is my last chance. This time the doctor will be fusing the bones which will hopefully stop the pain and take away the awful knob. The sad thing is that on recent x-rays, it has shown that arthritis has set in which means the pain will never fully go away. Now I have to face this operation, two months in bed and 6 to 10 months on crutches.
I thank God that I’m alive to be with my family and to see sunsets. I’d rather have pain and be here than not be here at all because someone else doesn’t think of the consequences and the people who could be affected by their actions. The drunk driver was fined R1 000 (or six months in jail) with a five year suspended sentence. But worst of all is he had a pending drunk driving charge against him. He was still waiting for this case to go to court, when my accident happened. It makes you wonder if these people will ever learn, maybe only when something similar happens to them and it may be too late………. Never say “it can’t and won’t happen to me”.
Next time anyone wants to have something to drink just take a second to stop and think of how you will be able to look at a mother, father or brother and sister in the face and say “I’m sorry for killing someone that you loved”.
Dear Drunken Driver! Cyclist.
I believe that these challenges that I am fighting, and will be for the next few years can be overcome with the immense support I receive from my loved ones, friends and family. A devastating consequence of the accident and injuries is the pressure it puts on these supporters. They are having to put their lives on hold to give me the support I need. Thanks to them for my progress made so far.
My therapy and medical help is working well but it is a very slow and long process but I will get through most problems, even though I know some are with me for the long term.
My recovery condition is as follows at the moment:
Back and neck injury: My back and neck remain sore most of the time. Sleeping remains a problem so I am on sleeping tablet. A consequence of the brain stem injury is that I am very sensitive to cold weather - I am always freezing cold in my body. I also suffer from long headaches which are often caused by reading or merely sitting upright, trying to do any work. Any mental work, eg. doing crossword puzzles etc also cause headaches.
Jaw and facial injury: My jaw was broken in 15 places in the accident, and I lost a few teeth. My jaw is sore and lower lip has no feeling in it. I find eating and drinking without spilling and messing difficult and embarrassing Jaw tension also adds to the headaches.
Eyesight: My eyesight had gone from better than average to problematic as a result of the head injury. I have many blind spots in my left eye as well as in the right. This frustrates reading and other basic activities.
Brain Damage.These physical injuries aside, it is my loss of concentration and cognitive ability which is most hard to accept. This affects my ability to go back to work and impacts on many aspects of my daily life. I tire very easily and every day has so many challenges. I battle to understand my emotional instability. I know I have brain damage but I will survive and win this fight.
(Driver was 0,405g. More than 8 x over the legal limit. Sentence: Community Service -12 hours a month for 3 years.)
"My dogtertjie is as 4 jarige verlam na 'n motorongeluk. Sy is nou 11 jaar oud. Die dronkbestuurder het slegs 'n boete gekry. Sy het nou osteoperose, sklerose, geen beheer oor haar blaas of stoelgang en is 'n parapleeg. Om uit te gaan, see toe, kampeer is baie moeilik. Verder is skole ontoeganklik. Die beseerde kind en haar ouers sit met al hierdie probleme terwyl die dronkbestuurder feitlik skotvry kom."
"I've lost my son in 2004, he was not even 23 years old. Yes we've got a case number and that was the last we've heard from them. Alcohol is no excuse to take the life of a person."
Anon. April 2006
"The "alleged" - how I hate that word because he was drunk, drunk, drunk - NOT ALLEGED - drunk driver is still driving his car (the same one that killed my son), probably sitting in a bar someplace getting drunk again. Why should they stop? Nothing is done about it and everyone else gets away with it.
Worse I believe, are people like me............ who have lost someone dear to them thru drunken driving and have done nothing about it."
Anon. May 2006.
"It's hard to be 15 and lose 2 friends in 1 night."
Anon. June 2006
"I’m really sorry to hear about Chas I thought he was a nice guy and thank you for coming to our school today it has really changed my perspective over drinking and I just felt so different thank my sister knew a bit but my sister was also hit by a car but is still alive with brain damage and a friend of our son died the same way I would like to help and thank u once again."
Anon. June 2006
"So sorry about the loss of Chas.
I was looking through Arrive Alive sight and came across you. You are doing very good work and it is positive for you.
I have been a victim of a Drunk Driver in so much as this driver STILL drinks excessively and still gets behind the wheel of a car. This same driver was the driver of the car that killed my husband of 24 years. It happened nine years ago, the hurtful thing is that he got away with it and I know he has been involved in another serious driving "under the influence" and he has got away with it again. I do know that he drinks in spite of all this daily and laughs about it.
You can imagine how it hurts....
I need to know what to do about this, because somebody else is NEXT."
Anon. August 2006
"The reality of drunk driving has hit me and I’m driven to help anyone who is trying to stop it. Two friends of mine were killed this year, so thank you for doing this. I will pray that you make a huge impact on this country."
Anon. September 2006
"I have been the victim of drunk driving on 2 occasions - have had 2 cars written off and been hospitalised for serious injuries in 2001 and 2006. The drinkers driving are out of control."
Anon. October 2006
This was a lesson that counted more than any words and warnings.
Thank you, I feel that we at last have support and are not alone. Thank you and God Bless,
"Hi Caro. Its R.C. here ex Hilton College.Studying @ UCT @ the mo. Just wanted 2 thank u 4 the posters on Campus.They're incredibly powerful & have generated a far reaching visible awareness.I've spoken 2 countless other students about them & all agree that the words & images do have a lasting effect.What you're doing is extremely humane & admirable.Thanx again."
"Hi Caro. Road block last night.Had alcohol tested for 1st time.Been driving for 27yrs. Nil of course."