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Stirling Corner crash survivor: ten years on
Hundreds have backed a campaign for 24-hour traffic lights to be installed at the Stirling Corner roundabout, between Borehamwood and Barnet. Borehamwood Times reporter Anna Slater met a crash survivor who believes round the clock signals in the area could have changed her life.
It has been ten years since Carol Davies’ life was shattered in a brutal car crash, but her injuries are still having devastating effects on her life.
The day was Sunday, November 29 2002. “You don’t forget day like that”, Carol explained.
Her eyes are sunken and she looks tired, but even after the torture she has lived with all these years, her sense of courage and spirit is overwhelming.
It started out as any usual Sunday might – she did her laundry, her weekly food shop and ended the day with a dinner at her parents’ house in Radlett.
Just after 8.30pm, she said goodbye to her mum and dad and climbed into her grey Ford Fiesta for the drive back to her home in Elstree, unaware of the horror that awaited her.
“It was the last time things would ever be normal in my life again”, Carol continued, her voice laced with a sadness that filled the entire room.
Just as she was driving past the Borehamwood Shopping Park, in Stirling Corner, a boy racer driving “miles too fast” changed her life forever.
The youngster was approaching the roundabout from Apex Corner when he wrecked the front of Carol’s car – and her life.
The scene was total carnage. Shards of metal from the car were flung all over the road. Pieces of the car battery smashed open, spewing acid all over her legs.
Horrified onlookers came over to try and calm her screaming.
“It was terrifying. My clothes and body were blood-soaked. My legs felt like they were on fire, it was excruciating pain and it just got worse and worse. I was panicking and screaming.
“Everything was a blur but I knew this was more than just a little scratch. I knew my life had been ruined. I was devastated”.
And whilst the ambulance moved her burnt body into a car, the 17-year-old who caused the crash walked away with just a black eye.
When arriving at Barnet General Hospital, where she would spend the next six months, she was diagnosed with a broken neck, cheekbone, vertebrae and arm.
She spent countless sleepless nights trying to drown out the pain with morphine. “I was feeling helpless and alone. It was the darkest time of my life, I was feeling so rough.”
The now 54-year-old had hundreds of operations to try and fix the breakages in her bones and to help soothe the burns on her legs.
But when she was finally allowed home, the former dental manager knew that her ordeal was far from over.
Her attempts to get back into normal life were futile. She had to quit her job due to ill-health. As the days dragged on, she felt herself getting more and more depressed.
Her health began to spiral out of control. She stopped driving, was left in constant pain, bedbound and worst of all – missing the scent of air.
She now has round-the-clock care from health visitors and her husband, Steven, a driving instructor who was diagnosed with leukaemia eight years ago.
“It is crazy that ten years later the accident is still affecting my life. I have lost total confidence in myself and do not have much of a life at the moment.
“The last time I went out socially was in December. I only leave the house every couple of weeks to go to hospital appointments. Everything I do hurts – my back, my neck. I cannot sleep from the pain. I am just constantly uncomfortable, it is horrible”.
But she still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and to this day, she cowers her head in her hands when driving through Stirling Corner on her way to hospital.
The sad reality of the accident is, Mrs Davies claims, is that it might have been avoided had 24-hour traffic signals been in place at the time.
She is now backing a campaign, spearheaded by GLA member for Barnet Andrew Dismore, to install round the clock lights on the “lethal” roundabout.
But Transport for London (TfL), who own the roundabout, claim there is “no need” for these measures.
“It took just ten seconds for him to wreck my life completely and it has left me absolutely devastated. Traffic lights could have changed my life. But I am determined to stay strong and hope that 2013 will be my year.
“I hope that TfL read my story and rethink their decision to reject the application for traffic lights. It is a miracle that I am still alive but others might not be so lucky”.
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