Crash victim backs new safety campaign
A mother-of-two who suffered horrific life-changing injuries and lost her unborn baby in a head-on car collision has spoken of her ordeal for the first time.
Gwen Cavaciuti, from Adsborough, near Taunton, Somerset, said her was life changed forever when a car crashed into hers on a "notoriously dangerous road" as she drove home from work.
She has chosen to speak about the incident for the first time in support of Road Safety Awareness week and said she wants to remind people of the importance of motorists driving carefully and with consideration for others.
The 40-year-old faced her worst nightmare when she found out she had lost her baby at 17 weeks as a result of the trauma caused by the crash on March 1 last year.
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She also had to have her left leg amputated below the knee, suffered a serious brain injury, a stroke and multiple other fractures.
Ms Cavaciuti said: "I don't remember the crash but I will never forget learning of the horrific injuries I had suffered. I just couldn't believe it was happening to me. I was so worried about my baby and my worst nightmare came true when I learnt of the miscarriage when I left intensive care nine days after the crash.
"Then a few days after that, to lose my left leg was, and still is, very hard to come to terms with.
"It's hard not to be very angry because our whole family's lives have changed forever, and our baby didn't even get to experience life, but the other driver can just carry on as normal."
The driver of the car which crashed into Ms Cavaciuti's, on the A38 between North Petherton and Taunton, pleaded guilty to careless driving and was given six points on his licence and a £750 fine.
For Ms Cavaciuti, because of the amputation, she struggles to get round the house and misses out on everyday tasks like putting her children to bed and playing games with them.
"I've always been a very hands-on mum and it's so hard not to be able to play games with my children and tuck them in at night like I used to," she said.
"I recently had further surgery on my leg which meant I was back in a wheelchair for a few weeks whilst I couldn't wear a prosthetic and it is very frustrating, particularly as our house has a lot of stairs."
She spent nearly seven weeks in hospital, relied on a wheelchair for several months and had to take over eight months off work – as divisional general manager at Weston Hospital – before starting back on a part-time basis.
Ms Cavaciuti said she knows of numerous other crashes on the same stretch of road in the last 18 months, including one in which two people were killed.
She said she therefore wanted to speak out about the consequences of the crash in which she was involved during Road Safety Week, organised by the charity Brake, which runs from 19 to 25 November.
"The A38 is a notoriously dangerous road that regularly sees accidents and drivers need to be aware of this and take extra care when using the road," she said.
"Lives have been unnecessarily lost or changed forever and it cannot go on.
"I am able to drive again now but I just hope all motorists think about the importance of Road Safety week and what it stands for.
"I couldn't live with ruining someone's life because I wasn't paying attention."
The mother is pursuing a legal battle with the help of serious injury experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to help her gain access to the specialist rehabilitation and support she desperately needs to get her life back on track.
Deborah Bigwood, a serious injury expert at Irwin Mitchell's Bristol office, said: "Gwen is lucky to be alive because of this driver's careless actions, but lost her unborn child as a result of the catalogue of injuries she suffered which is understandably horrendous to come to terms with.
"She has made great progress but needs extensive rehabilitation and care to help her recover from her injuries and regain some quality of life.
"We are currently fighting to help provide this and also get her the specialist prosthetic leg and physiotherapy that will help her maximise her mobility.
"We have long supported Brake and the fantastic work it does raising awareness of safety on Britain's roads.
"I hope this year's road safety week makes people think twice about driving carelessly as Gwen's case shows the devastating consequences it can have."