Sunday, 21 December 2014

On hold...

The last week has been spent in a blur of stress and anxiety.

Very early on Monday morning The Ragazza was returning from Oxford where she'd been to a concert by a band called Taking Back Sunday. The train was cancelled so Great Western Railways put on a replacement bus. That bus broke down on the A34, a busy, unlit, dual-carriageway. The driver permitted some of the passengers to leave the bus to call home. My daughter was one of those who had just stepped off the bus when it was struck by a DHL lorry.

The DHL lorry clipped one side of the broken-down bus as the driver attempted, at the last minute, to avoid a collision, which spun the bus round causing it to hit my daughter and throw her 20 feet into a ditch down the embankment.

She was seriously injured.

4 am on Monday morning that phone call that every parent dreads.
"I'm so sorry to have to tell you. Your daughter is in the ER at John Radcliffe hospital. She has severe injuries. Come now."

When I arrived I asked if we could wait for her father before she went into the operating theatre. A surgeon looked me in the eye and told me, "Her injuries are life-threatening, if we do not operate now she will die." My daughter told her boyfriend, "Look after my mum, she gets anxious, don't let her panic about me." When they wheeled her away I panicked. Oh boy, did I panic.

She had that surgery during the night.
Her spleen had to be removed. Her left kidney was smashed. She had suffered a broken cervical vertebra, two fractures to her pelvis, facial lacerations, a punctured lung and ten splintered ribs. She also sustained an injury to her brain.
My baby was broken.

We, the nurses, her brother, boyfriend and I, have made five attempts to wake her since Wednesday morning. Each time she became so stressed and distressed that we had to stop and she had to be sedated again. It has been a week of having to face the unspeakable possibility of losing her.

Today we arrived at the hospital at 8 am as usual to be told that The Ragazza was awake, had had her breathing tube removed and was stable. She's not out of the woods yet, she still has a long way to go but today, for the first time, I could smile again.

The police are investigating the accident. There are many questions to be answered.
GWR have left us messages offering support and assistance but we have coped as a tight-knit family unit and supported each other.
The band whose concert she had attended the previous evening sent a video wishing her well.
And DHL whose driver almost killed my daughter have not been in touch to enquire how she is.

Police reports indicated that the lorry driver had only reduced his speed by 1 kmh before the crash.
He had 200m of clear visibility.
I am no expert but that indicated to me that he was not looking at the road.

In court he was found guilty of careless driving, fined just over £300 and had 5 points on his licence.
My daughter was unconscious for 4 days, in ICU for 7, then on a trauma ward over Christmas.
Her recovery from her injuries took 5 months.
And she was not paid for 4 of those months.

I wanted to go to the court, to stand up and say to them "It took me 4 years of intensive medical assistance to conceive that child. Her birth was long and difficult. Once I had my perfect baby in my arms it was all worth it. I took 10 years out of my career to raise her, to give her the happiest, healthiest start in life and the best childhood possible. And she grew into an amazing, kind, intelligent, caring woman. She has just started teaching little kids. She loves her job and her kids love her. I had thought that my days of stressing and sacrificing and worrying were over. I thought I could relax. And then that lorry driver hit that bus and my beautiful daughter was broken forever. And do you know what made it so much worse for us, her  family? Not one word from the company for whom he works. Not one message of sympathy as we sat by her bedside praying that she would live. Not one offer of help and support. Not one word DHL.'

Picture Oxford Mail 


  1. Oh, oh, dear Julia, what a terrible nightmare for all of you! After such severe injureis and surgery, I'm glad that your daughter has taken a turn for the better. Sending hopes and wishes that she will be on the road to recovery with all the love and support you are giving her. Take care, hugs.

    1. Thank you.
      Somewhat cross with the trauma ward staff though :(

  2. There is nothing that I can say that can remotely express my feelings at your news. To wish you season's best would be a fatuous travesty of this occasion. This will not be a time of joy for any of you, but I do trust that all your hopes will be realised. Bless you all.

    1. Thank you Tom
      2015 will be a happier year, we hope :)

  3. Oh Julia, how terrible. A relief to know she's beginning to mend, but I'm so sorry for all you and your family have been and are going through. You are very much in our thoughts; take care of yourselves well.

    1. Hi Lucy, well, she was doing well in ICU but the trauma ward is not so good and she's still there and not so good today
      Fingers crossed she's out soon!

  4. I'm praying for you, your family, and especially the Ragazza. Hugs.

  5. Oh my gosh, I am so sorry to hear about that. Marja-Leena just told me about it. My prayers (Buddhist of course) are with you for a full recovery.

    Take care,

    Bob (enjoying retirement from Compuware)

  6. OH, no! I am so sorry to read this. It should not happen to anyone. May she be well. May you all be well. May the doctors be wise and skillful and your daughter heal fully in mind and body.......Yes, this is the phone call every parent dreads and I am more sorry than I can say that you had to receive it.....Thank heaven your are such a close knit family. I am so glad for the healing you have already seen.

    1. Thanks Kristi
      Hope all is well with you

  7. I am so so sorry to hear about this dreadful accident to your daughter. It is every mother's nightmare and I am with you spiritually in this most difficult of times. Ro

  8. Julia, I hope your daughter will continue to improve, it is encouraging that her
    condition is now stable. It is distressing that such an unlucky sequence of transport
    re-scheduling should put her in a situation to be the victim of such a serious accident. It must have been a dreadful shock to receive the 4 am phone call.
    I know that you are a loving family and will stay close by her bedside.
    She is young and healthy and I hope that the Radcliffe Hospital will help her
    achieve a full recovery. Hugs, prayers and positive thoughts. love to you all.
    Carol B

  9. Wow, it sounds like the blame for this tragedy can be split in 3 (the bus driver, DHL and GWR). Let's pray that somehow the injured parties are properly compensated, and that (most importantly) the Ragazza regains full control of her health (even with a damaged kidney and the loss of the spleen).

    Take care,


    p.s. Now that I have retired, and since the Brittany house will become a B&B, Gaysawn and I might be persuaded to come over for a visit!

    1. Well, bus company if the vehicle was not road-worthy
      bus driver for failure to look after the safety of the passengers
      GWR for employing the bus company
      DHL lorry driver for driving into a parked bus
      We will be pursuing when we receive the police report

      But for now we're focused on my daughter ...

    2. As indeed you should - make sure the Ragazza is out of danger first.

  10. Sending warmest wishes Julia. What a nightmare it has been for you all.

    1. Thank you Jane
      We're hoping she'll be out soon, the trauma ward is proving to be less-than healing for her

  11. Hi Julia. My comments all seem to disappear as soon as I hit publish. Trying again. I've been thinking about you and checking in here regularly. I hope things continue to improve with your daughter's health. So scary. <>

  12. Still not able to get my comments through - this is my 3rd or 4th try, but try try again... So glad to hear things are improving. Continued best wishes for a full recovery. xxo

  13. Thinking of you and hoping she'll improve rapidly now she's back home. best wishes to you both. xx

  14. Oh dear, I just read this post! I know what it is like to get the early morning call from the hospital or police and know how awful it is. My own beautiful daughter was in an accident seven years ago. She has recovered and your Ragazza will, too.
    I will be thinking about you and her, too.


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