Finding happiness

Happy ... Car crash survivor Tracey McDermott holds a framed photo of her daughter. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS

Reflecting on the fatal car crash she was involved in as a 7-year-old, Tracey McDermott is now happy with her life.
In Edendale, 1993, the car Ms McDermott was a passenger in was involved in a crash with a drink driver.
It left her with a life-long brain injury, an injured arm and without her father.
Keeping smiling had been important in getting through life.
‘‘That and just living a healthy life.’’
She had been married, divorced, had a daughter and persevered through all the challenges life had thrown at her.
‘‘I’m happy with that life.’’
She often spent time with her grandmother before she died in 2014.
‘‘I used to do everything for my grandma . . . grocery shopping, doctors, play cards and eat chocolate.
‘‘[Her death] left a big hole in my life.’’
She has lived in Southland her whole life and attended Waimahaka School and Menzies College.
She still had some anger about the accident.
‘‘Some days are real buggers of days.
‘‘I go on highs and I go on lows.’’
She only had use of her left arm which caused it and her left shoulder to ache.
‘‘I’ve been to physio for 30 years — I’m over it.’’
Physiotherapists could only do so much to help.
Ms McDermott was knocked unconscious in the crash and carried from the car by her brothers.
She relied on other people’s memories of the crash.
After the crash she spent three weeks in the Southland Hospital intensive care unit and another nine weeks on the ward recovering.
‘‘I had to learn how to do everything again.’’
She was unaware her father had died in the crash at the time because she was in intensive care.
‘‘I missed saying goodbye to him.’’