My year in hell
By ED SOUTHORN
IAN Douglas has suffered enough. Six months after a near-fatal car accident, the 51-year-old from Kingscliff wonders when a teenage driver will be punished. Last New Year's Eve, Mr Douglas was driving to Murwillumbah for his regular Saturday golf game when his life changed abruptly and tragically. His ute was involved in a collision with an ice-delivery truck being driven by a 17-year-old on the Tweed Valley Way at Condong. Mr Douglas spent 13 days in intensive care with horrific injuries. Although he hopes to return to his sales representative job soon, it will be some time yet before he recovers from the injuries and will carry the n From Page 1 scars for the rest of his life. His kidneys failed for two days after the crash and it was "touch and go" if he would survive. He underwent six hours of emergency surgery. His face was rebuilt and is now "full of metal". He had countless stitches across his torso and in most of his limbs. A wound on his ankle took weeks to close. Since the accident, Mr Douglas has endured further surgery to rebuild his face and realign his jaws. On one occasion surgery was postponed just minutes before he was due to enter the operating theatre. He has only recently managed to get off crutches, has been unable to eat solid food and is now facing extensive dental work. Only weeks before the terrible, costly crash, Mr Douglas' wife Trudi was diagnosed with breast cancer. So while he has been trying to get his life back together, Mrs Douglas has struggled with her own crisis, submitting to chemotherapy but still working as a teachers aid so the family bills can be paid. "We've been through hell," Mr Douglas said. "It's been the biggest struggle, but we have a great marriage and two beautiful girls and we've just kept going the best we can." And the bills have kept rolling in. The Douglas' eldest daughter this year began university in Brisbane, so accommodation set-up funds had to be found for her. They have indeed battled on bravely, supported by friends and family. Mr Douglas remains angry the teenage driver involved in his accident has not visited him and that a court case in relation to the crash is not resolved. Traffic Investigation Squad police confirmed the driver of the ice delivery truck which collided with Mr Douglas' ute has been charged with negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and may face further charges. He has backed the call by Tweed/Byron Police Commander Superintendent Michael Kenny for tougher penalties for driving offenders.