The road warped one way and then the other, headlights illuminating a small patch of moist tarmac and a scatter of autumnal leaves ahead as the vehicle trundled along. The rest of the road remained a complete mystery, with darkness firmly settled in all directions. While the passenger’s eyes were fixed on her phone screen, the driver’s were straight ahead. Alert. Fixed. Focused.
Then suddenly panicked, wide, overwhelmed, unmoving. The headlights in front of them grew impossibly big filling their entire vision. The sound of airbags exploding on impact was piercing, and then – blank. Paralysed in shock, the driver lay still while the passenger rolled her right ear towards her shoulder, their eyes meeting. “We’re going to die, Katie.”
Sheffield born Katie Moran (21) thought she was simply being a caring friend when she offered to pick her best friend Kaisha up from work on October 24. The darkness, met with the dampness of the road, provided unstable driving conditions.
“I’ve always been quite a cautious driver,” Katie said, “but myself and my family have always said it’s not my driving we worry about, it’s the other drivers on the road.”
Despite her step-dad offering to drive instead, Katie insisted that the car journey would be a good time for herself and Kaisha to spend time together, but a series of unfortunate instances led to an almost fatal conclusion that night.
A decision to go and pick Kaisha up herself led to calling somewhere for food. Calling for food led to a different route home. A different route home led to a missed turning. And a missed turning led to being on Melton Road, Doncaster, at 10pm.
It was a 50mph limit on the country road which links Sprotborough and High Melton, but the silver BMW estate that overtook two other vehicles on the opposite side of the road was travelling at 70.
“We were boxed in,” Katie said. “As soon as I saw the car coming towards us, I screamed to get Kaisha’s attention as I wanted her to lift her head up. I thought the damage would be worse if she had her head down looking at her phone.”
Slamming her foot on the brakes as hard as she could, all sorts of thoughts cascaded through Katie’s mind.
“For a second I doubted myself and thought I was on a one-way road or that it was me that was doing something wrong. I even thought for a second that I might be dreaming.”
But neither of these were true. The driver of the other car was being careless.
“The seatbelt and the airbag is the most awful feeling – it’s like being hit hard in the middle of your chest with a cricket ball,” Katie said.
“Kaisha had to climb over me because her side was caved in. My car was in complete darkness because the lights had been thrown into the road.”
Luckily, a car driving behind the girls stopped and offered to help. Due to her state of panic, they took Kaisha and laid her down in their car. Meanwhile, Katie ran towards the five men in the BMW.
“What the hell were you doing,” she screamed.
“They showed no remorse and just stood there – I could feel myself wanting to hit them.
“I soon realised they didn’t speak English, so I ended up shouting ‘give me your phone’ so I could call for help because our phones were trapped in the car.”
After calling her mum, Katie darted frantically between her car and the witness’, surprising everyone with how well she was coping.
“When people realised I was the driver of the vehicle they asked me how I was walking, but I couldn’t really feel myself – it was complete adrenaline. I felt like I was watching myself running up and down that country road.”
Three ambulances, five police cars and Katie’s parents soon arrived. When they did, only one man remained in the other car. Both drivers were breathalysed, and checked over. “I drive too fast,” he repeated.
“I know,” Katie thought, “it nearly cost us our lives.”
But even though everyone involved managed to escape without any major physical injuries, Katie said that doesn’t alter how it’s affected her psychologically.
“I have to sit in the back when I’m in a car now and I’m constantly jumpy. I’ve been going out for a drive every day to try and build my confidence back up, but the trauma is still there.
“I went to watch a 3D film at the cinema the other day which involved the most horrific car crash and I screamed. I had such a panic attack I had to come out and calm down. It was so embarrassing.”
Katie is now seeking therapy for her anxiety related to the crash, particularly after experiencing trouble sleeping.
“I’ve had the same nightmare several times where it’s either an explosion or a crash, and I wake up absolutely covered in sweat. It’s hard to get to sleep, and even harder to stay asleep – a lot of days I’m running on four hours of sleep a night.”
Despite her own injuries and trauma, Katie’s thoughts remain completely focused on the wellbeing of her friend.
“I wish I was on my own in the car that night,” Katie said. “Kaisha was supposed to be moving to London in November because she’d got her dream job and was counting down the days, but she’s had to defer because she wouldn’t pass the medical or the physical test. She’s been so upset, fed up and frustrated.”
But what still haunts her more than the pain and her pity for her friend, is what happened to the other four mystery men in the car; something she will most likely never know.
“They have no idea how much they’ve impacted our lives,” Katie said. “I don’t think people realise how little careless moves can have such an impact on other people.
“If something serious had have happened to any passenger in my car I can’t even say what I’d have done to that man – if they’d have really hurt someone I could have killed them.”
Following her experience, Katie is calling for more emphasis to be placed on the importance of seatbelts in cars.
“Although it damaged us a lot, it did save us as it stopped both of us going through the windscreen. We would have been in the next field by the combined speed if it wasn’t for the seatbelt – we would have been dead.
“I hope that the trauma soon passes and I get my confidence back, but I do know that it could have been so much worse – we are genuinely so lucky.”
Featured image: papanooms/ Flickr.