Margo Nyhan and Peter Davis’ truck has seen far better days after the Waitangi Day accident.
It’s just as well Margo Nyhan couldn’t see the expression on the face of the first person on the scene of her accident last week.
Trapped in mangled metal, suspended in mid-air, and hanging out the windscreen of her truck, she was not in a good way.
“The first person on the scene came and visited us in hospital on Thursday,” she told The Informant.
“He said as soon as he saw me, he thought I was a ‘goner’.”
Nyhan and partner Peter Davis had been heading north from their Templeton base on Wednesday, travelling with a team of five horses to a Waitangi Day race meeting at Rangiora.
But in a split second, their lives were turned upside down when a speeding tourist careered in to them at in intersection in West Melton.
“We were just going down the road at about 80kmph when a black SUV appeared from nowhere going very, very quickly.
“I’d say far quicker than 100kmph.
“We had no chance, we didn’t even see it until it was two metres away.
“It went straight through a stop sign at the intersection and made contact with us straight on.”
The truck toppled to the right and ended up on its side.
Davis, who was driving, was able to get himself out but Nyhan was stunned, barely conscious and prone.
“Pete half crawled out and was pulled out the front windscreen.
“I was up the in the air, half in and half out in quite a precarious position with my legs dangling.
“They had to cut me out of there.”
Davis’ situation has become clearer since early indications on the day were that he had just cracked a few ribs.
Unfortunately, his injuries will take a lot longer to recover from.
“It’s all been a bit under-played, really, especially about Pete.
“They were more concerned about me when it happened and they thought I was in a very bad way; they were working on me all the way to hospital.
“But I’ve only ended up with three broken ribs, a broken wrist and some stiches in my head.
“I’m the winner out of the two of us; Pete’s far worse off.
“He has broken bones in his back and his neck, but his spinal cord is fine and he’ll be ok in the long run.
“He’s flat on his back for six weeks and then he’ll operated on.”
Despite that, she says the pair are in good spirits and have been overwhelmed by the response from friends, family, the wider racing community and strangers.
“Pete’s really good at this stage. But we’ve had a shit-load of visitors which has taken his mind off things.
“It’s been unbelievable, really.
“That’s the only way to describe it.
“We are so fortunate to be a part of this industry where people are so generous and kind.
“We have been humbled and overwhelmed and each and every time we hear of a donation it brings tears to our eyes.
“We’ll never be able to thank everyone enough.”
A Givealittle page set up the day of the accident has proven the right medium for everyone to show their support for the stricken couple.
As of Sunday afternoon, just shy of $33,000 had been pledged via 239 donations.
There were generous donations from dozens and dozens of harness racing identities, a $758 donation from Cambridge trainer Arna Donnelly – her winning percentage from Double Rocket’s victory at Alexandra Park on Friday night – just one of numerous gestures that floored the couple.
Nyhan says it will be a month to six weeks before she is able to return to full training duties, but she hopes to get around their horses in some capacity as soon as she leaves hospital.
Her priority will be caring for Davis, who looks like being laid up for the best part of six months.
“I’ll be in and out of hospital for at least six weeks but hopefully by then we can have some of the team back racing.
“I think the grey horse (Overzealous) could be back within a month.
“We’ve had some amazing offers to place our horses with other trainers and we’ll be taking those up with the greatest of thanks and appreciation.”
On the horses, Nyhan said her first thought after the accident was to them, and it was unbearable to not be able to go and help them.
“I kept saying to the guy holding my legs, that I’ve got to get to the horses.
“Luckily there were a number of horse people there that did an amazing job.
Among them were local trainer Mike Cunningham, professional float driver Kevin ‘Chunky’ McClintock and an unknown friend of his.
“We’ve only just heard about this, but apparently this guy risked his own life couple of times.
“We’d really like to find out who he is and thank him.
“A lady called Mel Fletcher and her partner was there too and were apparently a very big help in getting the horses out.
“It sounds like she did a tremendous job.
“Two or three vets on the scene, including Hamish Rankin and Haydn Mitchell, were brilliant too.”
Stable favourite Game Changer was humanely euthanised due to the injuries he sustained, and another horse, My Eyre, is worse for wear.
“He’s got quite deep lacerations but that was more from getting him out rather than the accident.
“Because of the way the truck was, it wasn’t a normal way of getting them out.”
The horses are currently at Spreydon Lodge being looked after by Allanah Taylor “who has been incredible”.
“Allanah and her merry band of helpers are the reason these horses have come through it so well.”
The truck is a write-off and it was a battle just to recover some possessions in the aftermath.
“It’s not pretty.
“Pete’s daughter went to get our belongings out of it and they had to kind of forklift the roof off to even get in there.
“Our phone is missing; it was lost in the accident and hasn’t been found.
“You know, we did do many miles in that truck and we would see all sorts of terrible driving.
“We used to think, well at least if it happens to us, we’ll be much better off in a truck.
Nyhan said her and David had not had any contact from Police, but she understood the speeding driver, a German, had already pleaded guilty to three charges laid against him.
It is understood a passenger in the SUV also suffered significant injuries.
Nyhan says this latest test has only just began, but they are determined to get through it and be back training next season.
“This without a doubt is going to be the toughest period of our lives but we are going to get there.
“And it will be in part thanks to everyone who has done something to help since the accident.
“You can’t possibly know how much it has meant to us.”