Trapped and twisted in her upturned and crumpled car, Bronwen Jones says she didn't think she was going to survive as the temperature plummeted to -6C.

The Taumarunui woman says she resorted to counting numbers in Maori, singing nursery rhymes and talking to herself as she counted the cars driving straight past her Toyota BB which was resting on its side along State Highway 41 after crashing about 9pm on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Jones and partner Martin Pattison had been in Hamilton to pick up some flat pack furniture for Taumarunui Hospital where she works.

After dropping Pattison home in Putaruru, the 49-year-old headed back home.


It was dark and she knew temperatures had also begun dropping so thought she'd be cautious as she approached a 75km/h signposted corner.

"I started to slow down because I knew the corners were coming up ahead and hit some black ice and slid. I hit my head when I first started sliding so that made me lose consciousness so I don't remember much about the rollover.

"Apparently I rolled my car twice and I ended up on the side facing away from the road jammed up against the roof of the car."

It would turn out that the flat pack furniture would be her saving grace - some boxes flew into the front and just happened to strategically land in key areas around her.

"One was across my abdomen, so it was protecting my arm that I had dislocated and one was behind my shoulder supporting that and one was in front of me so that I could keep my head up so that I could still breathe because my seatbelt was quite tight cutting me in half."

Unfortunately it just happened to be one of the coldest nights of the year. She would later find out temperatures plunged down to -6C.

But that wasn't the scariest part.

The car Bronwen Jones was trapped in. Photo / Supplied
The car Bronwen Jones was trapped in. Photo / Supplied

"The scariest moment of my life was listening to all of the cars going past. None of them stopped. I counted 20 that night."


She'd heard previously the best way to help survive an accident was to try and move parts of your body and stay awake.

"Keep your fingers and your toes moving and keep your breathing regular because you've got a higher chance of survival ... the pain was absolutely excruciating and as it got colder the pain actually felt a little bit better but by about 4am I didn't think I was going to make it. I thought that was it."

The reality of the crash is just starting to sink in for Bronwen Jones after she was trapped in her upturned car in sub zero temperatures for 11 hours after crashing. Photo/Belinda Feek
The reality of the crash is just starting to sink in for Bronwen Jones after she was trapped in her upturned car in sub zero temperatures for 11 hours after crashing. Photo/Belinda Feek

She's not sure if she blacked out but she remembered hearing more cars going past before hearing the work van of Max Mackenzie Builders from Taumarunui drive past, then stop, and reverse at around 8am.

"It was the best sound I have ever heard. They opened the sliding door and they were calling out and I just called out as loud as I could just to help me. Ricky [Balloch] and the boys got as close to me as they could and put jackets around me, I was freezing cold. I couldn't move ... I literally owe those guys my life and I will never be able to thank them enough."

She says the impact of what happened was just starting to kick in today and she's constantly having flashbacks.

To keep herself occupied, she got by by "counting numbers in Maori, anything I could think of".

"Singing all the nursery rhymes that my grandson sings, talking to myself and anybody that I could think of, basically begging at points for this to stop. It was the hardest time I have ever been through."

She was dressed in just a singlet, T-shirt, hoodie and jeans.

"I managed to pull the jacket over my head to protect it a bit but it was just so cold. By the time the guys got to me I was nearly gone, i knew it."

Balloch earlier told the Herald they pulled over to see what had happened to the crashed vehicle, expecting to find a dead person.

Jones said the underside of the car was facing the road and as it had been dark most of the time, most cars wouldn't have seen her.

"The only reason Ricky and the boys stopped was because they saw the car and there was no police tape. So they knew that nobody had stopped, so I really owe them everything.

"I was a really, really lucky girl, someone was definitely out there watching over me, I've got a fair idea who, but yeah, I'm a very lucky girl."

Jones is covered in bruises from head to toe and suffered multiple injuries. She hopes to be back in Taumarunui by the weekend for grandson Diesel's fifth birthday.

She was also thankful to Waikato Hospital staff and the crew from the Taupo Greenlea Rescue Helicopter. She was also looking forward to getting back to work at Taumarunui Hospital where she is a treasured administrator.