Text crash causes women much pain

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE -

Af­ter sur­viv­ing a hor­rific crash days be­fore Christ­mas two Toko­roa women want to push home the mes­sage that tex­ting while driv­ing is a deadly mix.

Sis­ters Jade, 24, and Re­nee Beale, 19, and friend Ari­anna Ash­worth, 20, were all se­ri­ously in­jured when a ve­hi­cle crossed the cen­tre line and crashed into their car send­ing it into a spin.

All three wo­man suf­fered hor­ren­dous in­juries and the driver of the other ve­hi­cle, Paula Adele Jessep, died at the scene.

Po­lice said ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tions showed Ms Jessep was hav­ing a text con­ver­sa­tion on her mo­bile phone when the ac­ci­dent hap­pened on State High­way 1, north of Ti­rau near Pairere on De­cem­ber 22.

Speak­ing at their Grampian St ad­dress, Jade and Re­nee re­called the min­utes lead­ing up to the crash. ‘‘We were on our way back home from Christ­mas shop­ping in Hamil­ton,’’ Jade said. ‘‘Re­nee was driv­ing and I had swapped seats with Ari. I was tired so she jumped in the front pas­sen­ger seat and I hopped in the back, I dozed off and woke up just af­ter the crash had hap­pened.’’

Re­nee de­scribed what hap­pened sec­onds be­fore the im­pact. ‘‘ It hap­pened around 10pm, it was pour­ing down with rain, you could barely see. I con­sid­ered stop­ping be­cause it got so bad, then I saw the car in front of me swerve. I thought they were avoid­ing a pot hole so I be­gan to swerve and then I saw the head­lights di­rectly in front of me. I don’t re­mem­ber the crash but I re­mem­ber wak­ing up in the car and get­ting wet from the rain pour­ing in from the bro­ken win­dows.’’

The girls credit a man only known as the ‘‘bread man’’ for help­ing them straight af­ter the crash hap­pened. ‘‘We were in the car and this man talked to us un­til help ar­rived. He spoke to our par­ents on the phone and gen­uinely put as at ease,’’ Jade said.

Even­tu­ally the three women were trans­ferred to Waikato Hos­pi­tal. Jade had 10 bro­ken ribs, a punc­tured lung, bro­ken ster­num and col­lar­bone, fluid around her heart and lung, and a lac­er­a­tion from her seat belt. The force of the crash caused in­ter­nal bleed­ing and her small bowel had to be re­moved. Re­nee suf­fered a bro­ken col­lar­bone, ster­num and rib. Her left leg was shat­tered re­quir­ing knee re­con­struc­tion surgery and there was a big gash to her right leg. She had re­con­struc­tion surgery for her nose which was bro­ken in the crash. Ari­anna re­ceived se­vere lac­er­a­tions to her face re­quir­ing surgery to re­move glass that was lodged in it.

Jade, who was due to fly to Thai­land on De­cem­ber 27 then from there to Eng­land where she planned on liv­ing, holds no ill feel- ing to­ward Ms Jessep. ‘‘We aren’t an­gry we just won­der why she would text con­sid­er­ing the ex­treme rain we were driv­ing in,’’ Jade said. ‘‘I found out she had a 16-year-old son so I emailed him my con­do­lences and told him if he ever needed to talk I’m here. He lost his mum that night, I can’t imag­ine what that would be like.’’

Jade and Re­nee want driv­ers to be aware of the con­se­quences when tex­ting and driv­ing.

‘‘A few sec­onds of inat­ten­tion causes wide­spread pain through­out a com­mu­nity. Ms Jessep’s son has lost a mother, our lives have been halted, all our fam­i­lies have been af­fected,’’ Re­nee said.

Ari­anna has now re­turned to work as a dairy farmer in Norse­wood. Re­nee is wait­ing to see whether she can fin­ish her in­te­rior de­sign de­gree at Win­tec and Jade is look­ing at tak­ing art ther­apy.

LUCKY ES­CAPE: Ari­anna Ash­worth, Jade and Re­nee Beale feel some­one was watch­ing over them when they sur­vived a hor­ren­dous crash on De­cem­ber 22.

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