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Janine and her daughter Amelia were on their way home to Paeroa when the December, 2022 crash occurred, just on the outskirts of Puriri on State Highway 26. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Feeling effects of crash five months on

For Janine Parrish, the simplest things can sometimes be the most difficult.
Since the head-on crash that put her in hospital for more than five weeks and has rid her of her mobility, she has had to learn to do basic tasks from scratch.
“The dynamics for the whole family have had to really change,” she says. “Barry now cooks.”
Quietly, her husband of 17 years adds: “Poorly”.
Janine and her daughter Amelia were on their way home to Paeroa when the December, 2022, crash occurred, just on the outskirts of Puriri on State Highway 26.
It was five days before Christmas, and the collision left Janine with a myriad of injuries including a smashed foot, two broken shins, a spinal fluid leak, and a fractured sternum and neck. But the gift was that Amelia, 15, came out relatively unscathed.
“She got a cut eyebrow and ongoing pain in her tailbone. I’d take her tailbone and eyebrow too, if I could,” Janine says.

She spent the Christmas holidays and Easter in hospital – 80 days all up including rehab – but Janine has still not been able to regain her mobility. It’s thanks to a compound fracture in which her foot bone was pushed through her skin, leaving an open wound which isn’t healing.
“But how amazing is this,” she says, “the doctor did the surgery through the same hole.”
Janine and Barry maintain a sunny outlook, but the past five months have been difficult as Janine says she is no longer “the mum I was before”.
She misses the simple things, like standing on the porch waving goodbye to her kids as they wander off to school; sitting on her son Charlie’s bed and reading a book; and making dinner.
“Currently I’m working on how to cook dinner, and I can spend the whole day coming into and out of the kitchen, preparing something then having a rest.
“It’s a big jump from when I used to come home after work and quickly get tea on,” she says. “It’s a lot different having to break your day up into small tasks just to get the dinner done.”
Janine, who hasn’t been able to work since the crash, is also trying to go outside unaided. At the moment, she only ventures outdoors if someone is home to push her in a wheelchair.
“I am the caregiver of the family, and I just always thought I’d be here looking after the others,” she says. “But I think you can get really down about it and be bitter, or drive yourself insane with your own thoughts, but it’s easier to be happy and grateful to be alive.”

The driver of the vehicle that hit Janine and Amelia is facing criminal charges, confirmed by the court. They include: aggravated careless driving causing injury; driving with excess blood alcohol; driving under the influence of a drug; possession of a pipe or utensil for cannabis; and procure/possess methamphetamine.
Janine, still feeling the effects of the crash, says the impacts of dangerous driving are far-reaching.
“People see me and they say: ‘I’m so pleased you’re better now’, and I think they want me to be, and it’s lovely, but I think to myself: ‘You are so wrong’.
“I guess because I can’t remember the accident, I still don’t feel like this is me. It’s not Janine who works at the boat shop.
“To everyone… please don’t drink and drive, please drive carefully.”
Gary Johansen, owner of the Paeroa Marine and Cycle Centre where Janine has worked for the past six-and-a-half years, tells The Profile he is looking forward to Janine’s return when she is able.
“With Janine not being here, it has added extra pressure to the team to take up the hole that she has left. We are strongly looking forward to working alongside the ACC Recovery Team and health providers to gradually get Janine back to work and part of the team again.”