Crash survivor back on her feet

By Hayley Gastmeier -
Kim Powers, of Masterton. Photo / Supplied
Kim Powers, of Masterton. Photo / Supplied

Two years on from surviving a horror crash which left her fighting for her life, Kim Powers is back on her feet and back behind the wheel.

After spending six weeks in Wellington Hospital - four of those in a coma - and then 10 months at a rehab unit in Porirua, doctors said there was a chance Powers would never walk again.

But she was determined to prove them wrong.

"I'm very lucky to be alive, to have made it to 26," she said yesterday.

"I can't remember the crash itself but I can remember before it happened, it was windy and raining.

"They weren't sure if I was going to walk again, they told my parents that . . . but I didn't want to believe it."

In 2014, 24-year-old Powers suffered a brain injury, a broken jaw, broken arm, and cut up legs, when the car she was driving crashed into a power pole near Clareville in wet conditions.

Almost three years later, Powers is able to walk short distances with the assistance of a walking frame or quad stick.

Each Sunday she attends church, Reformed Congregation in Carterton, without the wheelchair she was once reliant on.

She has even had a few driving lessons to gain confidence in getting back on the road.

"I'm very independent and I hate having to be dependent on others to drive me places," said Powers, who lives with her cat, KitKat, in Solway.

"It's a bit nerve racking, but I've learnt from my mistakes, to drive to the conditions on the road."

At the time of the crash, Powers had been a caregiver and was on her way to work in Greytown.

Now she is enjoying volunteering at her old school, Ponatahi Christian School, helping children with their reading.

She still uses her wheelchair for going long distances and for shopping trips.

Sometimes she tackles the local shops by foot but uneven footpaths make it challenging.

Even going to her favourite cafe, The Village Grinder, in her wheelchair can be tricky.

"The sidewalk slopes down to the road, and it's on my weak side so it's kind of hopeless, I can't push myself very far."

Kim Powers. Photo / Supplied
Kim Powers. Photo / Supplied

The left side of Power's body was left weakened following the crash.

She said her health was improving, "but not fast enough".

"I just want to get rid of these [walking aids] but I'm too unstable, even with those.

"All I can do is hope that one day I might not need them."

The crash

Kim Powers was seriously injured when her car crashed into a power pole on a Sunday morning in 2014.

She had been travelling south along SH2, north of Chester Rd in Carterton, on January 5 when she lost control in wet, windy conditions.

The car slid into a power pole with such force it smashed off the front wheels and motor.

Powers, 24 at the time, was unable to be reached through the wreckage, so fire crews from Masterton and Carterton performed a time-critical extrication by "stretching" the car's body.

Two fire engines used chains, with one as an anchor point and another pulling away, to unfold the chassis.

By stretching the car emergency services were able to cut Powers free in about 10 minutes.

She was stabilised in a Wellington Free Ambulance before being stretchered to the Life Flight Westpac rescue helicopter.

Unconscious and in a serious but stable condition, she was airlifted to Wellington Hospital, where she remained in a coma for four weeks.

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