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Stock shock for mum

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

A raft of recent Wairarapa crashes involving cows has brought back vivid memories for Masterton mother Carrie Ford.

There have been four incidents since May – including three in August – where vehicles have struck wandering livestock.

Eleven cows died as a result of the crashes, but no people were injured.

But Carrie, whose maiden name was Price, was not so fortunate.

It has been 18 years since she was almost killed in a horrific crash, when she was a front-seat passenger of a car that collided at high-speed with a herd of cows on Chester Rd in Carterton.

Then 16, Carrie was incredibly lucky to survive, sustaining serious injuries which she is still affected by today.

The wreckage of the car Carrie Ford was travelling in when it struck cows at high speed. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
The wreckage of the car Carrie Ford was travelling in when it struck cows at high speed. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Following the May 1998 crash, she spent 10 days on life support in Wellington Hospital – her family not knowing whether she would live or die.

Carrie then underwent a 12-hour surgery where her left eye was removed, the left side of her face was reconstructed, and plates were put in her forehead.

After six weeks in Wellington Hospital, she spent six weeks in Hutt Hospital, five weeks in Wairarapa Hospital, and one year in Hastings Memorial Hospital rehabilitating.

“I had to learn to talk and walk again – my first word was ‘Cool’,” she said.

“‘Mum’,‘Dad’, I had to start again, everything, I had physio every day.”

Now 34 and a mother of 10-year-old twin girls, the right side of her body is still weak and she has recently re-engaged with a speech therapist and physio fortnightly.

Carrie Ford says a seatbelt saved her life in a horrific vehicle collision with livestock. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER
Carrie Ford says a seatbelt saved her life in a horrific vehicle collision with livestock. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

Carrie knows she is blessed to be alive, attributing this to the fact she was wearing a seatbelt in the crash, but she warns drivers to slow down.

“Just don’t drive too fast,” she said.

In the third incident this month, a vehicle struck and killed a cow in Opaki early yesterday morning.

A few weeks ago four cows were killed in a crash involving two vehicles in Martinborough, and just days later one cow was killed and another seriously injured when a car crashed into them at Tauherenikau.

In May a Carterton man said he was lucky to be alive after he crashed into a herd of cows on SH2 near Mt Bruce after an internal fence was knocked over by a falling tree.

Two cows were killed on impact and three were later put down.

Federated Farmers Wairarapa dairy chairman Chris Engel said crashes involving cows were “not pretty”.

“When you hit them you hit their legs and the body comes up onto the vehicle… it’s not like hitting a sheep that goes under the vehicle.”

He said there were two reason why a cow would escape – to find their calf or look for food.

“No one wants to have their stock on the road… all animals are an asset to the farmer and that’s why we have fences.”

Mr Engel said electric fences were the most effective barriers, as fences were only a “psychological” barrier for stock.

“Any beast can get over a fence, it’s only wires and a piece of wood.”

Senior Sergeant Mike Sutton said farmers and stock owners needed to make sure their fences and property boundaries were secure, and their gates had working latches.

He said in certain situations, where a person was injured or killed, the owner of the roaming stock could be prosecuted.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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