Horror struck the Great Western Highway last Wednesday morning when a head-on collision between two small cars at Springwood left a 56-year-old St Marys woman dead and seriously injured another woman from Wentworth Falls.
Inge Mulder, 47, was hit in the crash, minutes after she had dropped her children off at school.
Emergency services were called to the crash site, 300 metres east of the Hawkesbury Road overpass, at about 8.30am where they discovered the St Marys woman dead in the driver’s seat of her light blue coloured car which had come to a stop in the centre median strip.
The Gazette understands the St Marys woman was driving westbound when she may have slipped into a diabetic coma, causing her car to cross onto the wrong side of the highway directly into the path of Ms Mulder’s dark blue vehicle which was heading east.
The front of both cars was completely crushed but Ms Mulder — while trapped behind the driver’s seat for some time — survived, later telling the Gazette she felt “extremely lucky”.
All lanes of the highway were closed while rescue workers, ambulance officers, medical helicopter crews, firefighters and police officers worked at the scene.
Traffic was diverted through Springwood town centre, causing long delays in both directions until after midday when first a westbound lane and then all lanes were reopened.
Ms Mulder has no memory of the head-on accident.
“Last thing I remember is dropping the kids off to school at St Columba’s and then the next thing I woke up at hospital,” she told the Gazette on Monday from her Westmead hospital bed.
Between her school drop-off and when she awoke in hospital, other drivers and the police tried to pull her free from her car, before the fire brigade was forced to cut both car doors off and use the jaws of life to get her out. She was then choppered to hospital.
“It would make a good story if I could remember it, it’s just completely erased from my memory” Ms Mulder said.
“I must have a guardian angel looking after me.”
The TAFE teacher and mother of two, said “the kids have been very worried about me, but the support has been wonderful; people offering help with dinners.”
She and her husband, Kevin Skelly, were “very thankful”.
Ms Mulder endured an eight-hour emergency operation and has crushed ribs and injuries to her elbow, a crushed kneecap and pins and rods in her leg.
The keen soccer player will need to spend another week in hospital and a further six weeks immobile.
She is hopeful of regaining full movement.
“I’ve seen a photo of my car ... I’m extremely lucky,” she said, adding it was “tragic someone had died in the accident.”