Anna Chesterfield’s leg is “shattered into pieces” and she faces up to a year in recovery after a horror hit-and-run collision in Lower Hutt – but says she feels “blessed” and “wishes the very best” for the driver who hit her.
The 37-year-old Wellington mother was full of nothing but sympathy for the person who ran her down at a pedestrian crossing and fled the scene late last month, and said she hopes he has “support and kindness” around him.
Speaking from her hospital bed, Chesterfield told the Herald she has only just taken her first steps since the incident, which happened on January 30.
“It was such a good feeling. I just felt like ‘oh my gosh, I’m getting my freedom back’ … It means that I have a future and I’m going to be okay,” she said.
She doesn’t have a cast on her leg and isn’t allowed to place weight on it, but was able to use a Zimmer frame to take her first steps on Thursday.
The small piece of painstaking progress is one of the first steps in the huge recovery journey Chesterfield has before her – which includes weeks or months in hospital rehabilitating, and six to 12 months before she can walk unassisted again.
The incident left her with a badly shattered leg bone and a snap through another part of her leg, a broken sternum, bad breaks around her eye socket and ear, and a split in her scalp that required staples and stitches. She had to have surgery to insert a rod into her leg to hold the broken pieces together.
Her thoughts have been muddled and murky up until the last few days, and she was recently relieved to be told she does not have brain damage.
“We thought maybe I did because I was out to it, but I think I just had a lot of bleeding in the skull.”
Despite the shocking injuries, Chesterfield’s outlook remains sunny.
“It’s a miracle that I’m alive, in a lot of ways. It could have been [a lot] worse for me,” she said.
“I’m just so lucky. I feel really blessed and I’m really happy. I just have so many people around me that love me.”
She doesn’t remember much of the incident, just being on the hood of the car. Everything else is a blank, though Chesterfield was told she was able to speak to people who helped her at the scene.
“I so appreciate that there was a student nurse there that helped me. She probably saved my life.”
Chesterfield wanted to thank everyone who helped her at the scene and beyond, as well as everyone who has donated to a Givealittle page set up for her.
“I just think it’s really beautiful. I’m so thankful,” she said of the more than $12,000 in donations.
“I think people were pretty upset, they were very angry that someone had done that and then just left, but I don’t feel that way.”
She felt “a little bit sad” the driver had left her there, “but then I think maybe he was really frightened and I feel a bit sorry for him”.
“Yes, I’m a bit gutted that someone hit me, but I don’t know what’s going on in his life and I don’t want to hold it against him. I just hope that he gets really good support and he’s not stressed out and, you know, traumatised by it.
“I can imagine he’s probably going through hell right now. Maybe he’s not, maybe he’s angry. But yeah, I’m hoping that he has support and kindness around him and that people help him and bring him through this as well. I can imagine if it was me it would be pretty hard.
“I just wish the very best for him. It must be really, really hard.”
A 27-year-old man appeared in the Hutt Valley District Court on Thursday morning charged over the incident.
Jade Mark Harris is accused of careless driving causing injury, failing to stop and ascertain injury, and driving while forbidden.
He has not entered pleas and will reappear in court next week.
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