A night out celebrating New Year’s Eve turned to tragedy as 2013 rolled around for Tim Couling.
The Okaihau Primary Principal was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident in Kerikeri on his way home shortly after midnight. He was thrown through a van window and landed in the middle of the road 10 metres away.
His mother in law Anne Talbot-Bracey, aged 77 at the time, was also thrown through a window. Their injuries were horrific.
Says Tim: “Half my face as hanging off but the adrenaline kicked in and I ran down the road trying to stop traffic. People must have thought I was from a horror show. I remember a friend of ours, a volunteer for St Johns, holding my face together and telling me my modelling career was over.”
Some way to turn 50.
The Northland Rescue Chopper was called and landed in a paddock near The Old Packhouse Market in Kerikeri.
“It happened so quickly, we thought they were in the air already. We were flown to Whangarei Hospital and after four days I was transferred to Middlemore.”
Anne was in ICU for a month and family was called three times to say goodbye.
“If it wasn’t for the Northland Rescue Chopper she would not be alive.”
Among an extensive list of injuries, she had a rod inserted in her leg and spent well over six months unable to work.
Aside from his facial injuries, Tim had massive abrasions and knee ligament damage and the challenge of dealing with his head trauma.
“That’s the thing about the head injury, you think you are fine but it takes time and you are a lifetime dealing with the trauma of that accident. But you know I am still alive and kicking and breathing and enjoying things. And I have lived to see my grandchild Lily, so yes, I am blessed. The school staff and the community were amazing after the accident.”
Aside from that horrific road accident, Tim says the Northland Rescue Chopper has been really good to his family.
“My niece has had to have her baby flown many times, initially after it was born premature. So we are great fans of the Chopper.”
And the Northland Rescue Chopper has also meant hundreds of children have continued tos benefit from Tim’s teaching. A great outcome.