A NEAR-DEATH experience has made a seasoned Pacific Highway campaigner even more determined to see this dreadful road fixed.
Wayne Evans, who is also a high-profile environmental activist, was critically injured in a shocking highway smash south of Urunga on November 13 and has just been released from hospital.
He has many long months of recovery ahead of him and his wife, Pamela, who was also badly injured, still has nightmares about the day her husband almost died.
“I’ve got to say I got off easily because I have no recollection of all of that pain and all of that suffering,” Mr Evans said.
“To be perfectly honest this has been a real eye-opener for me. Every day is a golden day.”
Mrs Evans said their ordeal has been harrowing.
“It has been life-altering. It stopped everything we were doing,” she said.
“It’s also affected everyone in our family mentally, emotionally and financially.”
The Sandy Beach couple were on their way to Port Macquarie in their Mitsubishi Magna to visit Wayne’s parents when disaster struck about one kilometre south of Hungry Head.
Mrs Evans recalls seeing a white northbound car cross to the wrong side of the road and hit the vehicle in front and then slam into them.
“I recall every single thing, the smell and the sounds,” she said.
“It was eerily quiet. I could smell our car smoking. The windscreen was smashed in.
“We were covered in glass. Wayne was knocked out,” Mrs Evans said.
“I couldn’t breathe and I was trying to yell out for help and hold Wayne’s head up. I couldn’t get him to respond.”
Mrs Evans said a woman in the car ahead was thankfully a doctor and she came to their aid. Then another woman jumped into the back seat and held Mr Evans’ head up.
Paramedics pulled Mrs Evans to safety first but it took longer to free Mr Evans from the wreckage.
Both were taken to hospital where Mrs Evans was treated in intensive care for multiple rib fractures, a punctured lung, a broken wrist and massive bruising.
She had to wait an agonising two days to see her husband in critical care.
“He was hooked up to every machine you could imagine and he had tubes down his throat. He was in an induced coma to stabilise him,” she said.
Mr Evans had suffered a broken right hip which had to be pinned and he also had a punctured lung, rib fractures and massive head injuries – it was later discovered he had an arterial clot which meant he had to be flown to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital.
About a week after the accident he woke up but was heavily medicated on pain killers and initially didn’t know where he was or what had happened.
He was constantly monitored and visited daily by an occupational therapist.
“I guess my first reaction was that Pam had been through a really horrible situation and I had no memory of it,” Mr Evans said.
“I feel that my recovery will be okay. You have to be positive. I asked the doctors about my hip operation and they said it was successful.”
Mr Evans has for many years campaigned for a better deal for Pacific Highway motorists, specifically for an ‘A-class’ divided highway and to get road freight onto rail and that crusade will continue in earnest.
He and his wife are adamant their accident would not have happened if median safety dividers had been in place.
“This is a designated blackspot and it’s remiss of the RTA to not do anything,” Mr Evans said.