Crashed, stuck and alone

Ruapehu Press - - Front Page - EL­TON RIKIHANA SMALLMAN

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.’’

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