When police knocked on Julia Kravtsova’s door, she thought it was her ex-husband bringing their kids home from gymnastics.
Instead, she was told Ilaria, 8, and Ivan, 11, along with their dad Pavel Kravtsov were alive but injured after their car and a truck carrying oysters collided on Woodcocks Rd in Kaipara Flats just before 6.30pm on Wednesday.
“Grab a blanket and come with us”, the police officer said.
She rushed to the scene still in her work uniform, without her phone, purse, or medications, expecting to “reunite with her children shortly”, said Kravtsova’s friend and employer at Angels Grooming Parlour, Angela Anderson.
The three days since have been a whirlwind of confusion and fear as Ilaria and Ivan begin their long journey to recovery from multiple fractures and other serious injuries.
The prognosis for Kravtsov isn’t yet known, as he remains unconscious and on a respirator in Auckland City Hospital, with injuries including broken femurs, tibia and kneecap, several broken ribs and severe bruising, Anderson said.
“One leg is so extensively damaged that surgical closure remains a challenge.”
The children are conscious but Ivan is in a neck brace and on a pain pump, while Ilaria is in traction. Both are in Starship Hospital.
The gymnastics, reading, swimming and piano-loving girl who proudly claims to be “almost 9″ to anyone who asks now faced spending weeks off her feet, Anderson said.
She has fractures to both femurs and suffered a hole above her chin, caused by her teeth during the crash. Both her legs and mouth required surgery.
“She currently requires traction for her broken legs, and it will be several weeks before she can bear weight again. This is a challenging prospect for such an active child.”
The 8-year-old also has a broken wrist and injuries to the inside of her jaw.
Ivan also suffered breaks to his leg, as well as a broken shoulder and a fracture to his T1 vertebra in his spine.
“He … faced surgery before Ilaria due to open fractures in his tibia and fibula, posing a higher risk of infection.
“Perhaps the most frightening injury is a depressed skull fracture, [after he received] a large dent in his head miraculously without causing brain damage.”
Surgery to repair the skull fracture was considered too risky at this stage, Anderson said.
“Ivan will be missing his beloved activities, such as gymnastics, basketball, swimming and rock climbing, but he hopes to alleviate the boredom with Lego and crafts when he is able to move again.”
She and colleagues at Angels Grooming Parlour have set up a Givealittle page to support the family, with Kravtsova facing a long period of work as she cares for the children in their recovery, Anderson said.
Kravtsov is also likely to also need her care in his recovery.
The couple, who moved to New Zealand from Russia and settled in Warkworth, are separated but on good terms, Anderson said.
The cause of the crash isn’t yet known, but Kravtsova had said her ex-husband was a cautious driver who had never been in a crash before.
Kravtsova, who also has an older son, is getting support from her ex-husband’s brother and his family but still faced a challenging time, which prompted workmates to set up the Givealittle page. More than $13,600 has already been raised.
“These funds will enable Julia to care for her children full-time without the added stress of working and provide support for the children when she needs a break from hospital visits or daily routines.”
She was moved by the kindness already shown to her family, including from their church and school communities, and intended to “pay it forward by donating to Starship Hospital and Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter”, both of which played pivotal roles in saving her family’s lives, Kravtsova said.
“I want to say to other parents that even if you experience something as unexpected and unthinkable as this, truly your worst nightmare, it is amazing to know that between friends, family, doctors, nurses and even strangers that there is hope and help.
“I don’t know how I could ever go through this alone.”
To support the Kravtsov/Kravtsova family, go here: Julia and her family need your help - Givealittle
Cherie Howie is an Auckland-based reporter who joined the Herald in 2011. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years and specialises in general news and features.