Ludivine Howse sees the shape of the car for half a second before it silences her screams.

There's the horrific sound of metal hitting metal. Everything turns black.

In the mangled wreck of her car, she comes to and looks at her sons in the front passenger seat and car seat in the back.

Ludivine Howse's vehicle at the scene of the crash. Photo/Supplied
Ludivine Howse's vehicle at the scene of the crash. Photo/Supplied

They appear unconscious. She starts to scream. She frantically calls to them to wake up.


Howse then realises she can't move. She tries to touch her kids.

Her 11-year-old son starts to open his eyes beside her.

But he panics too as he takes in the crash scene around him. Howse tries to calm him and can hear people coming.

A woman appears beside her. "'It's all right, I'm a doctor,'' she tells Howse, before asking if she is sore.

"Yes, I cannot move my head or my neck,'' Howse tells her.

Howse can hear her telling others to call 111.

Another doctor arrives. He holds Howse's neck while the first doctor checks on Howse's sons.

Her youngest, age 7, has woken up. Her "baby boy".


There's a feeling of relief. Howse now knows both her children are alive.

Then she falls unconscious again.

Ludivine Howse's vehicle after the crash. Photo/Supplied
Ludivine Howse's vehicle after the crash. Photo/Supplied

One month later, Howse sits in a wheelchair, with a big black moon boot on her left foot and a sling holding her right arm.

She supports her left leg to keep her broken foot raised.

The sling holds her fractured right shoulder blade in place to heal.

She points out the red burn on the right side of her neck and chest from when her seat belt stopped her going through the windscreen.

"We all could have died if we were not strapped in well. The car seat for my wee one, and the belts, they saved us."

The Rotorua mother-of-two was driving her sons to the Lego exhibition in Hamilton on Sunday, March 18.

It was 1.15pm and they were heading into the city along Cambridge Rd, Tamahere when Howse's car was hit on the driver's side, between the driver's door and the bonnet.

The force sent the vehicle into a pole on the opposite side of the car, where Howse's sons sat.

Howse says the pole stopped the car from flipping over.

Police are still investigating the cause of the crash.

"I do not remember much. We were just 10 minutes away from the venue. I was focusing on the road and then bang, it was too late. It happened so fast I could not do anything."

The 44-year-old fell in and out of consciousness as emergency teams broke her door open to get her out, and as she was being driven in the ambulance.

"When I woke up at the hospital they were trying to ask me for my name and the date. I just remember thinking this is so hard, why is this so hard. I knew they had done x-rays and scans but I did not remember any of it."

Howse found herself in ED in a little single room at Waikato Hospital.

Her sons were also concussed, and were taken in the second ambulance and cared for separately until her husband arrived.

Howse wants to find the doctors who helped at the scene but she and her sons remember little about their appearances.

"All I really remember is the woman saying 'it's okay, we are doctors. We were just passing through, we are going to Rotorua'.

"I do not know whether they were here on holiday, if they are from New Zealand. I have no idea. That is why I really want to find them. They were there straight away. I do not know if they were together or separate though."

Howse wants to thank them for their reassuring words and caring hands that quickly broke through the nightmarish scene around her.

Today Howse is finally able to move back home to her husband and children after spending four days in Waikato Hospital, two and a half weeks in Rotorua Hospital and just under two weeks living with extended family.

Her own home has two storeys so it was too difficult to start her recovery there while in a wheelchair.

Howse's friends and family have spent as much time with her as much as possible but when they have been busy with school and work, she has faced social isolation and loneliness.

"It is very hard when you are by yourself, sore."

As she reflects on the past month, Howse says the loss of independence has been the biggest shock, but everyone at Rotorua Hospital was helpful.

"We all have problems with health. You know with the nurses' campaign right now, it's topical ... It is not only the nurses, it is also the health care assistants that fill in when the nurses are busy, the people who clean too, or the ones that come with lunch and breakfast.

"You do not realise how much they do till you are there for a long time."

Howse is grateful for visits from Vision West home carers who see her for half an hour in the morning, an hour at lunch and an hour in the evening until she is walking again.

"I did not realise how lucky we are doing anything: standing up, toileting, showering, just anything. It is so hard to be dependent on people, as a woman and as a mother especially."

Howse reminds herself she is fortunate the wheelchair is only temporary.

Fortunate the ongoing effects of concussion are gradually easing.

Fortunate she will be able to use her shoulder again.

Fortunate she is alive.

• The cause of the crash will be reported by the Rotorua Daily Post when the police investigation is complete.