By Jeremy Rochow
Last updated on: April 4, 2019 at 3:59 pm
“Imagine waking up in hospital and not knowing how you got there. In 2017, on 2 July, I had a car crash that changed my life.”
The words of 23-year-old Holly Scott echoed around the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, as about 8000 students waited eagerly to hear what this woman – only a few years older than them – had to say.
The university student was among a number of crash victims and their families who shared their life-changing personal stories at Street Smart High, an annual road safety event hosted by RAA in conjunction with the Motor Accident Commission.
Ms Scott told them how she left work at Norwood in July 2017 and started the 40-minute drive to her boyfriend’s house in Echunga.
She never made it, overcorrecting on an Adelaide Hills road and slamming into a tree only a few hundred metres from her destination.
“It reached the time I should’ve arrived so my boyfriend rang me 4 times and I didn’t answer,” Ms Scott said. “He had a gut feeling and got into his car and came looking for me, finding me a street away from his house with my car wrapped around a tree.”
Emergency services had to pull her car off the tree and cut the roof off to get her out.
“Major crash was called to the scene, because no one thought I would survive,” Ms Scott said.
Police were preparing my boyfriend for the worst – that I wasn’t going to make it – while he watched the paramedics help me.”
Ms Scott was in a coma for 15 days and broke both her legs, shattered her pelvis, fractured a couple of vertebrae and tore her liver. On top of that she had bleeding on the brain which led to a brain injury that still impacts her speech and vision today.
“Being 22 and in a brain injury ward is such a scary, difficult experience,” she said. “Two weeks before (the crash) I was celebrating my 22nd birthday.”
Following the crash Ms Scott’s life has completely changed. She’s had to learn how to walk and talk again, and struggles to stay on her feet for long periods.
Her story was one of a number of stories told at this year’s Street Smart High event.
Teenagers on the cusp of getting their drivers licences were immersed in a full-scale crash scenario before watching a driving simulation that showed how distraction could influence your ability to drive.
SA Weekender host Kelly Golding also shared how her brother was killed by a car while walking home from a night out, while NSW man Jonathan Beninca taught the students about being accountable for your actions through the story of how he lost an arm and a leg when he was hit by a train.
RAA Senior Manager of Community Engagement Ben Haythorpe said he hoped Ms Scott’s story, and others, would ultimately help reduce the state’s road toll.
“This event aims to demonstrate the reality of road trauma to South Australian high school students,” Mr Haythorpe said.
“It also provides an opportunity for students to learn about driving risks and avoid situations that place themselves and others in danger.”