I tried to sit up but was unable to move. Horrified, I realised I was trapped.
A man who had been driving behind me dashed over.
‘It’s okay, an ambulance is coming,’ he said.
But I was pinned between the SUV and the parked car.
‘I think my arm is broken,’ I said weakly.
I could feel it throbbing as I waited, imprisoned by the wreckage.
Panic washed over me when I felt a trickle of blood coming from my forehead.
By the time the emergency services arrived, I was hysterical, desperate to get out.
The car was such a mess though, the fire brigade needed to cut the door off before I was stretchered away.
X-rays showed my right arm had been broken severely in three places and I needed a metal plate put in.
I also had a piece of glass lodged in my forehead.
It was the worst night of my life.
I was so lucky I hadn’t been killed instantly.
While I was in hospital, police officers came to take a statement.
They told me the driver of the SUV had alcohol in his system and had been charged with careless driving causing injury.
Two surgeries later and after a week in hospital, I finally went home.
But I couldn’t return to work.
The nerves in my hand had stopped working and I had to learn to hold a pen and write again.
I also went to counselling to help deal with the trauma.
It took months before I could even get behind the wheel of a car.
And for the next year, I went to rehab and pool therapy every week to repair the damage to my arm.
In court, the driver, aged 26, pleaded guilty.
He was disqualified from driving for six months and ordered to pay $1200 in reparation costs.
Reading my victim impact statement out loud, my voice quivered.
‘His one decision has impacted so many people,’ I said. ‘Today he is still working, today he is still driving, today his car is probably fixed. That’s the difference between our lives right now.’
While recovering back home, I searched online for any support systems for victims of drunk drivers, but nothing came up.
Determined to find support, I reached out to a US organisation named Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
After travelling to Hawaii to learn from the women behind the organisation, I returned home with an idea.
I wanted to create a support network for victims and their families and to educate drivers about the dangers of drink driving.
The statistics in New Zealand and Australia for crashes caused by drunk drivers are staggering.
I need to do something, I thought.
Instead of wallowing in pain and anguish, I decided it was time to take action.
In 2016, I came up with the name No One Ever Stands Alone (NESA).
I had meetings with the New Zealand Police, who backed my awareness campaign.
Then I started gathering volunteers to stand at roadside breath testing checkpoints to hand out lollies and thank-you cards to sober drivers.
I wanted to reward people for staying safe on the roads, while also raising awareness of the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking
Since the crash, I have met with countless families and victims whose lives have been ruined by drunk drivers.
When I read about another fatality or injury on the news, my heart breaks for the innocent victims.
I want people to realise drinking and driving is a decision and I encourage everyone to think very carefully about that decision.
It’s not just your own life you are risking.
If your friend has had too many drinks, take away their car keys before they make the wrong decision.
If in doubt, use a taxi or public transport because drinking and driving is never worth it. ●
For more information, visit www.nesa.org.nz.
**Transport for NSW does not recommend lying down in a crash.
A spokesperson said, ‘The best course of action is to sit in the correct upright position in your seat. Proven vehicle safety devices like seatbelts and airbags, including side airbags, are designed to offer maximum protection in this position.’