Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

'Outstanding' soccer coach badly injured in Maungatapu four-car crash

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Corbyn Hill with his son Noah, 7, and Cam, 18 months.
Corbyn Hill with his son Noah, 7, and Cam, 18 months.

A Tauranga woman has described the heart-stopping moment she was told that her husband and two sons had been involved in a serious crash.

Corbyn Hill, a children's soccer coach, was travelling with his sons Noah, 7, and Cam, 18 months, to a weekend soccer match when they were in a four-car collision near Maungatapu Bridge on Saturday morning.

The crash hospitalised eight people and blocked State Highway 29A for five hours.
Mr Hill broke several back bones and suffered head gashes.

Noah broke his collarbone and suffered a deep head gash while Cam was bruised and battered.

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Mr Hill's wife, Vanessa, said things had just been starting to look up for the young family.

She was due to give birth to a girl in two weeks, and was getting her hair done at the time of the crash - knowing she would have no time after the baby was born.

"The hairdresser had just put foils in and I looked at my phone. I had nine missed calls from the police.

"I rang back and they told me my two boys were okay but they didn't say anything about Corbyn. They didn't know if he was all right," she said.

It was a heart-stopping moment for Mrs Hill.

Noah was discharged from hospital on Monday, eager to get home.

Mr Hill was still in hospital and "absolutely exhausted".

"He got up today and walked around a bit but said it felt like he had run a marathon and he had to go back to bed."

He could stay awake for only an hour at a time.

Mr Hill was able to walk, but it would be a long road to recovery. He would not be able to return to work as a commercial joiner, which involved heavy lifting, for some time, she said.

Corbyn Hill, coach of Blue Rovers Tigers, gives his  team a pep talk.
Corbyn Hill, coach of Blue Rovers Tigers, gives his team a pep talk.

The car he was driving when the crash happened was written off, and it was not covered by insurance.

"We have insurance for everything else except his car," Mrs Hill said.

She said it had been a hectic couple of days looking after her 18-month-old, who was clingy since the crash, and rushing back and forth to hospital.

The soccer team had been supportive, with parents ringing and visiting, she said.

Some team members had passed the crash on the way to their weekend game but were unaware their coach and team-mate, Noah, were involved.

"It's really nice to know you've got support backing you in times like this," Mrs Hill said.

Mr Hill offered to coach the team of 8-year-olds when they could not find anyone else.

He played soccer himself and loved seeing the progress the kids made, even though it took up a lot of his time for trainings and games, Mrs Hill said.

Jackie Heetkamp, a mother of another boy in the team, said Mr Hill was an "outstanding coach".

She said he often showed up to training and games with his work boots still on and his youngest son balanced on his hip.

The soccer team was in disbelief after learning a crash they passed on the way to their weekend game left their coach with a broken back.

Factbox:

* A Givealittle page has been set up to help the family buy a new car. Givealittle link: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/corbynandvanessa

- Bay of Plenty Times

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