News Courts

Thursday 18 September 2014

'I am and will remain a quadraplegic, having complete paralysis and no useful function or movement from below the level of the neck': crash victim Kate Petford

Published 18/02/2014 | 10:37

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Kate Petford who sustained serious injuries when involved in a car crash in Skibbereen, Cork.

Kate Petford was unable to attend Cork Circuit Criminal Court as she is still undergoing treatment at the National Rehabilitation Centre.

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Her Victim Impact Statement was read out on her behalf by garda Oonagh Collins:

"On April 8th, 2013, I was twenty two years of age and my future was bright with promise - I was a final year degree student at UCC where i was studying commerce and French.

"I lived and enjoyed an active and independent life, full of spontaneity. I enjoyed dating and I hoped in the future to marry and have a family.

Kate said she hoped to carve out a career for herself in international marketing, with her French and Chinese.

"Unfortunately none of this was to come to pass and on April 10th, 2013, following the tragic road traffic accident on April 8th 2013, I was partially awakened in CUH to a nightmare of pain and loss.

Kate suffered extensive fracturing of the vertabrae of her spine which led to a devastating, severe spinal cord injury.

"I am and will remain a quadraplegic, having complete paralysis and no useful function or movement from below the level of the neck. This condition is permanent."

Kate also suffered a life-threatening tear to the aorta of her heart, fractured ribs and collapsed lungs and she was unable to breathe without assistance for many weeks and had to be tube fed.

"I was obliged with great difficulty to re-learn the basic skills of breathing independently and swallowing so that I could eat. For a long time my survival was uncertain but happily I have survived.

"My greatest loss has been the death of my best friend, Megan Johnston who tragically lost her life in the same accident - the loss of my friend at such an early stage is a tragedy and a sadness with which I must live.

Kate said she lost the "independence and spontaneity of life"

She said she is dependent on family, friends and hospital staff to assist her with washing, brushing her teeth, eating, sitting up and other normal bodily functions.

She told how she can read only when a computer screen is propped in front of her by tapping the screen with the side of her hand - the only movement of which she is now capable.

"Clearly as I have been confined to hospital since the accident, my social life has been very limited. It has been impossible for me to date or meet a partner and although my rehab is not yet complete, prospects of marriage and a family in the future seem unlikely.

"Despite the loss of my spontaneity and independence and the catastrophic impact of this accident on so many aspects of my life, I am at least fortunate to have survived and am so much more fortunate than my beloved friend, Meg who has been lost forever."

"Perhaps my greatest regret, apart of course from the death of my beloved friends is that the tragic events and tragic consequences of the road traffic accident of April 8th 2013, were entirely avoidable and arose by reason of dangerous and irresponsible driving by the defendant.

"I ask you (the judge) only to take into account that my friend is no more and I must endure the tragic consequences of the actions of the defendant on a daily basis for the rest of my life and it seems therefore unfair that the defendant should continue to enjoy his life untrammelled by the consequences of his actions."

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