Steph's ‘worst nightmare’

CRASH: Stephanie McDonald says she was 'extremely lucky' to survive a head-on crash that killed her boyfriend.

CRASH: Stephanie McDonald says she was 'extremely lucky' to survive a head-on crash that killed her boyfriend.

In the third week of Fairfax Media's Drive Arrive campaign we again look at a tragedy on the road which has impacted on Whyalla and its people.

Telling the story of her horrific car crash in 2007 to the media for the first time, Stephanie McDonald admitted she was lucky to survive the point of impact in a head-on collision that changed her life forever.

Ms McDonald was lying across the back seat when her boyfriend Dion Prater fell asleep at the wheel, drifted into the oncoming lane, and collided with a Premier Stateliner bus.

The crash claimed Dion's life, and left Ms McDonald with a variety of serious and life-altering injuries.

Ms McDonald and Mr Prater were travelling on their way home from Adelaide late at night after a series of unfortunate events had delayed their departure.

“He told me that I should stay in the back and have a rest, he gave me a blanket and that was where I slept,” she said.

However nine kilometres out of Port Augusta, fatigue caused Mr Prater to lose control of the vehicle which led to the crash.

“I have no memory of the collision, after the crash I woke up in my worst nightmare,” she said.

“It's been nine years since we lost Dion in the accident and you never recover from the repercussions of something like this – you might look physically fine to everybody else but you're not.

Ms McDonald’s injuries from the crash were devastating, and included: two broken legs – one badly broken – major internal bleeding and numerous other abdominal injuries.

She has had numerous surgeries over the past nine years, with her next operation to be her sixth.

“I've had abdominal surgery to repair issues from the crash 12 months after it, I'm now waiting to have my leg fixed again – it's the third operation I've had on my leg,” Ms McDonald said.

“When you're on country roads you tend to feel safe because there are hardly any cars around, I don't think that we should have an oncoming lane on the same stretch of road, they should be double-laned.

“That way you don't have the possibility for a head-on collision.”

Ms McDonald said more attention needs to placed on the issue of fatigue on the road.

“Before my accident happened I knew very little about fatigue, there is a lot of focus on drink and drug driving while fatigue is probably more dangerous,” she said.

“You make those decisions to drink and drive or take drugs while driving, with fatigue you think you can make that journey but your body says otherwise – it can literally happen in a split second.

“It should be right up there with drugs and alcohol.”

This story Steph's ‘worst nightmare’ first appeared on Whyalla News.