Jul 04, 2016 - DRUNK DRIVING NOT WORTH THE RISK SAYS TEEN PASSENGER IN FATAL COLLISION


After a night out with her friends, Megan Prince said she didn't think anything bad would happen after she got in a car with a drunk driver.

"Never drink and drive or get into vehicles with others because it's not worth the risk … or the pain. It is physical and emotional pain," she said.

On April 30 some time before 6:30 a.m., on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation rescuers pulled the 19-year-old's badly injured body from a burning car after it hit a concrete barrier and collided with a building.

Her three close friends, Sean McGinnis, Kyla Fontaine-Young and Mike Vaillancourt, were killed in the crash.

"That night I just didn't really think about it because people don't think it's going to happen to you until it does," Prince said.

 

Sean McGinnis (left), Kyla Fontaine-Young (middle), Mike Vaillancourt (right) died in the crash.

Prince only recently began to walk again after eight days in a coma, two months of recovery and extensive rehabilitation.

In her first interview since the crash, Prince said she is speaking out about the tragic experience to discourage other people from drinking and driving.


'We were just wanting to go home'


Prince and her friends were out for a regular Friday night — playing pool and then heading to a house party in The Pas.

"We were actually drinking that night. It's not the best, but that's what I remember we were doing," Prince said.

She said she doesn't remember making the decision to get into the vehicle at the party.

"I think it was just because it was like six in the morning, and we were just wanting to go home," she said.

The group of friends didn't make it home.

Their vehicle smashed into a concrete barrier, flipped, collided with the First Nation's public works building and later burst into flames.

 

Before the accident, Megan Prince never thought drunk driving would impact her.

A harrowing rescue


Early that Saturday morning, Brandon Flett, 17, woke up to the screams of his younger brother.

A neighbour had run to their house and said that there was a car on its hood across the street. 

"My body was telling me to stay inside, stay near my parents," Brandon said. "Something made me go over there and start helping."

Brandon, his brother Derek and father Ernie quickly ran to the scene.

Brandon said they could see people inside the flaming, upside-down car. They tried in vain to open the crumpled car doors, calling to the people inside without getting a response.

"I remember trying to cover my ear with my shoulder while trying to pull someone out because the flame was just so bad it was burning my ears," he said.

They were grasping at limbs, trying to free the victims, when Brandon's father saw a girl's leg twitch.

"My dad just said, 'let's get her out of there.'"

Brandon said he remembers being one of the few people on the scene by then not paralyzed by shock, as one man was standing there unable to move.

"I pushed [him] out of the way and crawled in there basically and like tried to grab her," Brandon said, adding that he didn't think about the flames, only that a live person was stuck inside. He crawled nearly all the way inside the car through the shattered rear window.

·         Man and sons rescue young woman from burning vehicle in Opaskwayak Cree Nation

"I crawled in there a little bit more, and grabbed her out, I started pulling her, my dad started pulling her more, and that's when we put her down right beside the stop sign," he said. 

That was a short distance away.

"My dad just looked so lost," Brandon said, remembering the look of anguish and bewilderment on his father's face as he stared down at the unconscious girl.

"I've never seen my dad look like that in my life."

Minutes later the whole car exploded and was engulfed in flames, Brandon said.

"I didn't know what to do, I didn't even have any shoes on, there was glass everywhere, it was hot, stuff inside the car was exploding, you could hear it going off like bullets," he said. 

He said he knew the others were already gone, but he wishes he could've gotten them out too.

Brandon later learned that he was already friends with the woman he had just rescued, although he couldn't recognize Prince because of her injuries. He also found out that his cousin, Vaillancourt, and one of his best friends, McGinnis, had died in the fiery crash.

 

After the coma, Megan Prince was in a wheelchair.

Prince said Brandon and his family are her heroes.

"They're really strong and courageous because I know I would've been scared if I had seen an accident like that happen," she said.

"But they didn't really think twice about it. They came and helped me."

Her mother, Sarah Linklater, has personally thanked Brandon's father.

"I said, 'You actually saved two lives that night, hers and mine,' because I don't know what I would do without her," Linklater said.

 

Megan Prince's mother Sarah Linklater is grateful to her daughter's rescuers for saving her life and to the health professionals who are helping her recover

The road to recovery


Prince has made huge gains in her recovery since the crash.

She woke up from a coma at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg to learn she had a brain injury, a fractured spine, pelvis and shoulder blade, broken ribs, an injured lung and cracked femur, among other injuries.

She was in a wheelchair but is now walking. She credits much of her progress to the rehabilitation team on the brain injury unit at the Riverview Health Centre and the support of her loved ones and community. Soon, Prince hopes to make her way home to The Pas.

Prince's left eye doesn't open because of muscle and nerve damage, but she's been told it may not be permanent.

"This accident really impacted the way I think and look at things now," she said. 

Before the crash, Prince completed two years of business administration at college. She plans to one day travel and return to school, but for now, she wants to be with her friends and family.

"It really changes things. Like for me, I don't even know if I want to drink anymore and stuff, and I know that if I do, I'd be so much more careful about it," she said. 

"I'm so proud of my friends who are taking this accident into perspective." 

Across her chest, Prince got a tattoo of three hearts and the date of the crash to honour her friends.

"It's close to my heart because they'll always be close to my heart," she said.

Prince looked deeply at the smiling faces of her three friends in pictures, tears welling in her eyes, and said, "Good memories with all of them."

"Just wish we could've made more."

Source: CBC News


 

Last updated on: 2016-07-19 | Link to this post