Crashed, stuck and alone
Bronwen Jones sang nursery rhymes, listened to moreporks, talked to people in her head and counted cars as they drove past her, trapped for 10 hours, in an overturned vehicle.
About 9.20pm last Sunday, the Taumarunui Hospital administrator hit black ice and rolled her car near the summit of State Highway 41A, about 30km from Taumarunui.
She knocked her head, injured her arms and was trapped against the driver’s door and the roof – caught by her seatbelt and stuck under boxes of flat pack furniture.
Shortly after her crash, the first of 26 vehicles went past. She couldn’t be seen and no one stopped.
‘‘It seemed like forever but it was probably only about 15 or 20 minutes,’’ Jones said.
‘‘Just knowing that I could never be found in time was the worst thought that went through my head,’’ she said.
Her car was positioned in such a way that it couldn’t be seen. It was dark and a frigid minus-6c, 800 metres above sea level.
‘‘I just kept hoping that one of them would see me and every car that came past, it was: ‘Please help, please help. Somebody stop.’
‘‘The area where I had the accident, there is a 75kmh corner and I always slow down because I know they do get rough.’’
The crash fractured nine ribs and tore rib cartilage, dislocated her left elbow, fractured her sternum and bruised her head, face and right arm and shoulder.
She did her best to stay awake, keeping her fingers and toes moving to warm them. Her toes were purple in the morning.
‘‘I knew if I wanted to get through the cold, I had to stay awake,’’ she said.
Hours into her ordeal, Jones heard the dawn chorus and knew dawn was near.
Not long after sunrise and shortly before 8am, five Taumarunui builders from Max Mckenzie Ltd, on their way to work near Lake Taupo, spotted her car.
‘‘I yelled as loud as I could which, apparently, wasn’t very loud: ‘Help me, please’.’’
They cut her seatbelt, covered her with warm jackets and called 111.
A bouquet of flowers from the builders sat beside Jones’s hospital bed.
‘‘I owe everything to those boys. If they hadn’t stopped and seen me I might not have come out alive so they are real heroes.’’