Fears haunt survivors

By Merania Karauria

Everything changed for Wei and Fang Liu on October 30 when a car turned across State Highway One into Calico Line, near Marton, and smashed into their car as they travelled north.

Now they are wheelchair-bound in the Masonic Court Home for the Elderly and face extensive rehabilitation to walk again.

Mrs Liu said although they had cried since the accident because they didn't know what the future held for them, they had been surrounded by people who had shown them love - and they felt lucky to be alive, despite their massive injuries.

Among those they were grateful to were the doctors and nurses at Wanganui Hospital; "Kay" in the intensive care unit; the helicopter pilot who flew Mrs Liu to Wanganui; the pilot who flew Mr Liu to Auckland Hospital for a week, and the doctors who operated on his leg, and the nurses there who took care of him; manager Sandra Wilson and staff at the Masonic; Senior Constable Philip Randal of Marton police; and a Wanganui Chinese shopkeeper who took them food.

The two said they appreciated the skill, kindness and care shown to them. "We thank the people of Wanganui ... wish them the best for Christmas and the New Year.

We appreciate all the people who have taken care of us ... [it would have been] impossible in China. In China no plane to save life."

Apologising to the Chronicle for her limited English, Mrs Liu smiled and raised her hands in a prayerful gesture of thanks. They are people who relate easily to each other, one translating when the other falters.

Mr Liu said he was "proud of his beautiful wife".

They married on December 29 last year in China and will celebrate their first wedding anniversary next week in Wanganui.

"We came to New Zealand with new hope. We want to build our home in New Zealand."

Mr Liu came to Waikato University to study education in 2003. Before coming to New Zealand he was a part-time lecturer in economics and trade at Hubei University in central China.

Mr Liu has New Zealand residency but Mrs Liu is on a work visa, which poses problems with what she is entitled to in government assistance.

The two are covered by ACC but, once rehabilitated, Mrs Liu will not be entitled to benefit.

The Lius were on their way to Te Puke to take up a labouring job when they were hit. The work would have given them flexibility to return to China.

They have not told their parents about the accident because they do not want to worry them.

Mr Randal has visited the couple and is now the police officer in charge investigating the accident.

He said the driver that hit them had returned to Australia but, once police had spoken to the Lius about the accident, the driver would have to return to New Zealand to face charges.

Mr Liu said he remembered well what happened in the moments leading up to the accident that wrote off their uninsured car.

The car and belongings in it were all they owned.

"I saw a car 300 metres ahead ... it was parked on the side of the road ... it suddenly turned."

Mr Liu was powerless to take evasive action as the turning car smashed into their car. The Lius' bodies bore the brunt of the crash. Mr Liu was pulled from the car after his wife because Mrs Liu received a massive blow to her head and the swelling alarmed emergency staff. Mrs Liu was taken by helicopter to Wanganui Base Hospital.

Mr Liu has a smashed left leg that now has a titanium rod in it. He can't bend his leg and he'll require intensive rehabilitation to walk again. His left thumb was smashed and his hand is in a plaster cast.

Mrs Liu has a titanium rod in her thigh to her knee and her lower right leg is broken and in plaster. She also has a broken right shoulder.

They said they had lost hope and were frustrated but the love of the people who continued to care for them kept them going.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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