Woman ‘haunted’ by horrific crash that killed her husband

RESCUE DAY: A giant cake was cut by Kirsty Stephenson at the Rescue Day launch in Lismore on Friday August 14, 2020. Photo: Alison Paterson.
RESCUE DAY: A giant cake was cut by Kirsty Stephenson at the Rescue Day launch in Lismore on Friday August 14, 2020. Photo: Alison Paterson.

AFTER being resuscitated three times, having five blood transfusions, surviving bleeding on the brain and two strokes, there's no doubt that Kirsty Stephenson is a fighter.

Ms Stephenson, 45, spoke from the heart when she visited Lismore on Friday for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Day, where she said she survived an horrific head-on motor vehicle crash thanks to the aircrew.

In January 2019 on the Summerland Way, 20km north of Grafton, Ms Stephenson was in a crash which tragically claimed the life of her husband Stephen Kemp, a registered nurse who was driving at the time,

After being seriously injured Ms Stephenson was resuscitated at the scene and again twice more on board the Rescue Helicopter.

A New Year's tragedy claimed the life of father Stephen Kemp (left) and left his wife, Kirsty (right) fighting for her life.
A New Year's tragedy claimed the life of father Stephen Kemp (left) and left his wife, Kirsty (right) fighting for her life.

"I have no recollection of the day, I only know what people have told me, but I was kept alive by the helicopter medical team and the other first responders," she said.

"A lot of this plays on my mind and it haunts me.

"I'd like to know what actually happened but people have told me 'you don't want to know'.

"How did I survive?"

Ms Stephenson said she first learned of the rescue helicopter's involvement after she had come out of coma and had been transferred back to Grafton Base Hospital.

"I never ever thought I would need them," she said.

"Please, every dollar counts, you never know when you will need them."

Ms Stephenson suffered serious internal injuries and has had major surgery to her bowel, stomach and diaphragm, swelling and bleeding on her brain and survived two strokes, which left her blind for 10 days and with no use of her left side.

RESCUE DAY: A giant cake was cut by Kirsty Stephenson at the Rescue Day launch in Lismore on Friday August 14, 2020. Photo: Alison Paterson
RESCUE DAY: A giant cake was cut by Kirsty Stephenson at the Rescue Day launch in Lismore on Friday August 14, 2020. Photo: Alison Paterson

 

After learning to walk again, Ms Stephenson has since started a haulage business in Grafton with one of the first responders who attended that fateful day.

She said the accident totally changed her family's life.

"My daughter Kristal originally wanted to be a teacher," she said.

"Now she is training to be a paramedic."

Westpac regional general manager, Safia Deen, said the organisation was committed to its partnership with a first responder.

"We are very proud to offer our support for the Annual Rescue Helicopter Appeal and help raise awareness and funding through our local branches," she said.


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