A woman who miraculously survived a tragic collision in 1994 which killed her six-year-old sister will speak about the fateful day for the first time.
Louise Cade (31) is going back to The Duke of Bedford School in Thorney today (Wednesday, April 5) to tell pupils her story and raise awareness about road safety and the crucial lifesaving care Magpas Air Ambulance delivers.
The school already has a plaque and a memorial stained glass window commemorating Louise’s sister Sally.
Louise’s story begins around 3.30pm on January 21, 1994 when herself (aged eight) and six-year-old Sally were going to their home just outside Thorney on the school bus.
Sally and Louise got off the bus and waited for it to pull away. They held hands, looked both ways and were crossing the road when a car - seemingly out of nowhere - collided with them at high speed. Louise’s family will never forget the sound of the loud bang the car made on impact.
Louise said: “My mum got to us as soon as she could. My sister Sally and I were lying in the road. My mother says Sally was smiling at her whilst I was unconscious. She remembers noticing Sally had fluid coming out of her ear and she knew then it wasn’t a good sign.”
Dr Richards, Dr Knights and Dr Jackson (who all worked at Thorney Surgery) were called out with Magpas to Sally and Louise and did everything they could to save the sisters’ lives.
Sally was first to be taken to hospital in an ambulance (with a police escort), shortly followed by Louise with the Magpas doctors on board. Sally died several times en route, as did Louise, but the Magpas doctors repeatedly brought them back to life.
Once at the hospital, Sally and Louise were next to each other in the ICU being treated. Louise said: “Sally was on a ventilator but sadly died from head trauma and organ failure on the January 23.”
Louise had to have gravel sucked out of her lungs (one of which collapsed). She also suffered a serious head injury and multiple broken bones as well as a stroke.
She said: “My family tells me I died several times and was not expected to survive. The last time I died everyone thought I had gone when suddenly I came back - gasping for air, trying to rip the ventilator tubes out of me.”
Her parents were told she would probably not walk and talk again, but Louise was determined to get back to normal. At Sally’s funeral the family asked only for donations to be made to Magpas Air Ambulance and fundraised for a defibrillator for the charity to use.
Not long after, the same Magpas doctors were called out to another little girl called Rebekah, and the defibrillator bought by Louise’s family was used by Magpas to save her life that day.
Louise has since lost most of her memory of what life was like before the accident. She said: “It’s really upsetting I can’t remember much about my best friend who I miss dearly, but the motivation, determination and strength to live on has made me the person I am today.”
Louise, who is 31, now feels ready to tell her story for the first time. She wants the memory of her sister Sally to live on by raising awareness for Magpas which came to her rescue all those years ago.
As a result, Louise is teaming up with Rebekah’s mum to take part in the Magpas annual skydive this July.
Explaining why she’s embarking on such a courageous fundraising venture after everything she’s been through, Louise said: “My sister means a great deal to me and, like Rebekah and her mum, I want to thank the charity that did so much for me on that terrible afternoon.”
She added: “These days Magpas Air Ambulance trains senior doctors and paramedics, from all around the UK, to bring the hospital to patients in life-threatening situations. I want to gather as many sponsors as I can and help Magpas Air Ambulance give more lifesaving care to others in their time of need.”
The link to Louise’s fundraising page is: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JumpingwithSally.