Rotorua Daily Post Year In Review takes a look back at 2018 and republishes some of the top stories of the year. This one was originally published on November 30 and was one of the most-read stories on rotoruadailypost.co.nz.

A miraculous recovery is being made by young crash victim Hollie Snell.

The 16-year-old was involved in a two-car fatal crash on November 18. She suffered serious head injuries that her family was told she would not survive.

Due to Hollie's wishes, the family spent the first week preparing to donate her organs but after day 12 in hospital Hollie has been taken off life support and is moving to the high dependency unit.

Her sister Larnie Woodward shared the news on Facebook: "Thank you all for your prayers. Hollie has made some progress. She has been taken off life support and is breathing on her own.

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"She can open her eyes. She is doing lots of coughing and lots of yawning. The doctors know from her brain waves that she can hear us and that she is having a normal sleep pattern."

Woodward said the family was optimistic if Hollie continued to make progress she may recover.

But Woodward knew the family needed to be realistic and acknowledged they were not "out of the woods".

"The extent of damage to her brain is not clear and brain injuries are extremely complex. We have to take each day as it comes and just keep hanging on to hope and keep praying.

"It's a miracle that she's come this far."

Woodward said that doctors were optimistic at this stage.

"If she continues to show signs of progress they [doctors] will discuss transferring her to Auckland to a youth rehab centre once she is stable enough."

Almost two weeks ago, the teen had been travelling between Rotorua and her hometown, Te Puke, when she was involved in a fatal crash on State Highway 33 at Okere Falls.

She suffered severe head injuries and was flown to Waikato Hospital and put on life support. An occupant of the other car died at the scene.

In last Saturday's Rotorua Daily Post, Hollie's grief-stricken family spoke of having made the decision to turn off her life support and donate her organs to save others.

Parents David and Dale Snell and sister Larnie Woodward said organ donation was something Hollie had always supported. Read their story here.


At the start of the week, the day they were planning to say goodbye, the family received news that Hollie had made a slight improvement and had kept her on life support.

Woodward said. at the time. that as long at there was hope they would hold on.

"We've been told many times this is unsurvivable but here she is fighting her best to survive and things keep changing everyday.

Hollie Snell has made a miraculous recovery and been taken off life-support. Photo / Supplied
Hollie Snell has made a miraculous recovery and been taken off life-support. Photo / Supplied

"We don't know what's going to happen but we know the prayers and support from around the country have had some power."

A Givealittle page was set up to help support Hollie's family, who were well known in the Te Puke area for helping the community through non-profit organisations and volunteer work.

More than $11,000 was raised in the first week and it was now more than $15,000.

Hollie was recently transferred to an acute brain injury rehabilitation centre in Auckland.

She was making progress every day and now walking and talking.

The family had said this was the best Christmas present they could have asked for.