Crash victim back at home

PUBLISHED: 19:30 22 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:36 03 March 2010

LESS than two weeks ago she was fighting for her life in intensive care – but today courageous A140 crash victim Kathy Sparkes is back at home with her loving family.

LESS than two weeks ago she was fighting for her life in intensive care – today A140 crash victim Kathy Sparkes is back home with her loving family.

In an exclusive interview with The Evening Star the brave mum-of-three revealed how she lost a week of her life, as she lay critically ill and heavily sedated in hospital.

And as she starts on the long road to a full recovery she had this stark message for motorists across the county: "Think about your speed. Think about the damage to a person's life that you are risking to save a few minutes."

The 36-year-old nurse was driving home from work – a journey she had made hundreds of times before – when she was involved in a collision with a lorry and ploughed into a pub in a horrific accident on a notorious stretch of road.

The crash on March 7 prompted the Star to launch a campaign to make the A140 safer – a move backed today by Mrs Sparkes and her family.

"I don't really remember anything until this weekend," said Mrs Sparkes of Church View, Wyverstone..

"I don't remember the accident at all. I don't remember the treatment and I certainly don't remember being in Addenbrooke's.

"It's only really been the last few days I've been with it."

Mrs Sparkes suffered critical head injuries in the early morning accident at the Stoke Ash crossroads near Eye.

She had to be cut free from the wreckage of her car by firefighters before being taken to Ipswich Hospital, then to the neurosurgical unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

Doctors had to drill through a section of skull, shaving away a patch of her blonde hair, to monitor pressure as her brain swelled as a result of the crash impact.

She said: "The only thing I have noticed physically is my mobility is not very good at the moment, although it is supposed to get better.

"My vision has deteriorated, but they say it will come back.

"It's a wait-and-see time at the moment. I think I've been lucky. It could have been much worse."

Husband Paul, 42, and eldest son Chris, 13, maintained a constant vigil by her bedside while friends and

family rallied round to look after Kathy's younger children Zoe, 11, and Thomas, seven.

It was an incredibly difficult time for father and son, who came across the accident when they went out looking for Mrs Sparkes after she failed to return home after her night shift at Hartismere.

"Her phone was ringing but she didn't answer," said Mr Sparkes, a driver for a funeral service, recalling the awful chain of events he will never forget.

"Then it came on the radio that there had been an accident at that turning and I said to Chris 'I know she's involved'. I knew before I got there."

When he arrived at the notorious crossroads and recognised his wife's car crushed between a heavy goods vehicle and a building, he feared the worst.

"I said to a policeman 'Is it fatal'? I knew it was bad just by the state of the scene and I knew it was Kathy's car. He said she was bad, she was going in and out of consciousness.

"I've been along that road before, picking up people that weren't as lucky."

Mrs Sparkes, who was driving a Rover 100 bought only the day before the crash, said that although she was aware of the reputation of the A140, she had never been involved in an accident before.

"I have done that journey 100 times and that's the first time ever I have experienced an incident that affected me. I know the road has a bad name, but because I work night shifts I don't see it at rush hour. It's just a quiet country road to me.

"But I have been on the A140 to Norwich sometimes. You get stuck behind things and you think 'why can't they dual more of it?'

"Ideally it needs to be dualled from Ipswich to Norwich."

Mr Sparkes added: "People are in too much of a hurry. They are under pressure all the time.

"I've slowed down a lot. I think we have all speeded in our time, but when something like this happens it makes you think."

Mrs Sparkes, who spent a week in intensive care before returning to Ipswich Hospital and finally coming home on Wednesday evening, extended her thanks to friends and family who have rallied round to help.

She said: "We have had a few friends who have done an awful lot, but I don't want to mention names because there are other ones who have done just as much. Everybody has done their bit."

Two victims of another crash which happened just six days after Mrs Sparkes's crash in almost the same spot are still in hospital today.

Tony Cassidy, 47, from Norwich, was seriously hurt and was taken to Ipswich Hospital. His condition has been described as stable.

Tony Slattery, 17, from Basildon, Essex, was a passenger in Mr Cassidy's Ford Granada and was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital. His condition has been described as critical but stable.

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