Katikati crash survivor: 'I'm going to be okay'

By Jamie Morton

Covered in blood and glass, George Jones kept telling himself "I'm going to be okay" as firemen worked to free him from his mangled vehicle.

The 54-year-old last night spoke exclusively to the Herald from his hospital bed, less than 24 hours after surviving a horrific head-on collision when an 18-year-old driving a stolen car ploughed into him.

The teenager, yesterday named as James Dean Miles, of Huntly, died at the scene.

Mr Jones expressed no animosity towards the teen, only sympathy, despite having to spend the next five months immobilised with a severely fractured leg.

The former missionary simply believed he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the stolen green Hyundai Accent appeared around a bend in State Highway 2 and veered into his path.

The Herald understands the crash came only two minutes after police began following Mr Miles. It is understood his vehicle suddenly sped away and crashed almost instantly.

"I think it was coming around too fast, lost control and came on to my side," Mr Jones said.

"I knew I was going tohit the car and I thought, well, this is it. It's the end of my life."

Only "a split second" came between seeing the oncoming car and the impact that caused him to instantly black out.

"I just remember hearing a lot of noise ... the noise of the impact ... then I just lost consciousness."

He awoke half an hour later to a scene of carnage, his Nissan Bluebird sedan crushed around him.

"I was trapped in my car and I looked down and there was a whole lot of blood all over me. All I remember saying is, I'm going to be okay, I'm going to be okay."

One of the first faces he saw was a firefighter who told him he was lucky to be alive.

It took the crew 20 minutes to free him from the wreck.

"I didn't know how bad it was, then I just looked and the front of the car and windscreen had buckled up ... it was almost touching me, that was the scary thing.

"I was wondering where I was and all I could feel was excruciating pain in my leg and I knew something was wrong with it ... I didn't know what other damage I had to me."

His body was covered in cuts, bruises and grazes from the glass and metal, but escaped serious internal injury. He has been told by doctors he will be unlikely to be able to walk for months, preventing him from working as a lawnmowing contractor.

But his wife, Benny, and brother Lloyd, who kept a vigil at his bedside yesterday, could only say how grateful they were that Mr Jones had survived.

"We're just trying to say to him that we are blessed that he's alive," Lloyd Jones said.

Mrs Jones said she prayed for her husband's survival.

"He's been a missionary for eight years and he's saved so many lives ... and so I prayed to God, asking Him just to remember all the lives he had touched in Africa," she said.

"For me, this is pretty overwhelming - and I don't even want to comprehend what had happened."

The couple were thankful their young daughter, whom he often drove home from daycare at that time, was not in the car with him.

The cause of the crash is being investigated and police are appealing for any witnesses to the crash or to the events leading up to it to come forward.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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