'He ruined my life and never said sorry'Save
By Sandra Conchie
"He's ruined my life and never once said to me I'm sorry."
These are the words of crash survivor Chris Welch eight months after Omokoroa man John Mackay fell asleep at the wheel of his car and smashed into her van, leaving her with horrendous injuries including the loss of part of her leg.
On September 24 last year, Mackay, 70, and his wife were on their way home from Auckland Airport after arriving back in the country on a long-haul flight from Europe.
The couple had rested two to three hours before getting into the car and driving back to their Omokoroa home.
The Mackays were almost home when Mr Mackay fell asleep at the wheel on State Highway 2 at Apata, crossed the centre line, and smashed head-on into Ms Welch's van.
Doctors told Ms Welch's partner Lisa Charman that she might not survive her injuries. Ms Welch was hospitalised for 10 weeks and has had seven surgeries including the amputation of the lower part of her right leg from mid-calf down.
Ms Welch is now wheelchair bound.
Mackay sustained serious injuries including fractures and his wife's injuries included a fractured vertebrae, concussion and bruising to her lower abdomen.
Mackay was sentenced in Tauranga District Court on Thursday on two charges of careless operation of a motor vehicle causing injury - one charge each for Ms Welch and Mackay's wife - and was ordered to pay $30,000 reparation and disqualified from driving for 12 months.
During the emotionally-charged sentencing hearing, Ms Welch wept as she described the lasting impacts on both her and her partner.
Every day since the crash, Ms Welch said she had lived with the constant thought that it would have been better if she had died.
"Sometimes I just wish I hadn't survived the accident. I fight every day with these thoughts and I know it hurts my family.
How can you nearly kill me and not feel guilty? This should be you, John, sitting in this chair, not me.
"I hate knowing I was involved in a crash which wasn't might fault, and I struggled every day in hospital knowing my injuries would affect me for the rest of my life . . . I found out about two weeks after being in hospital that John was in a room not far from me and not once had he come to see me or asked the nurses how I was . . . all I wanted was for you to say sorry."
Ms Welch said at a restorative justice meeting she had asked Mackay if he had thought about her since the accident.
"John said he is a very selfish person and not once had he thought about me. He is only worried about his own rehab. I was so heartbroken when he said that."