Kendra Smith and Corey Thompson after the accident. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
Last January, a motorcycle accident destroyed – and almost ended – the lives of a young couple Kendry Smith and Corey Thompson. Thompson lost a leg, and Smith, who was five months pregnant, lost her first joint child. The months that followed the disaster were dark, desperate and traumatic. But after most people couldn’t imagine a year, Smith and Thompson found themselves on top of the world and excitedly planning their wedding – and for a new arrival. They talked to senior journalist Anna Leask about their trip and happy news.
“A year later, a few operations later, and some still ahead, but here’s the good news –
Corey has a leg and he’s even mobile without assistance, ”Kendra Smith said.
“In July we will finally have an engagement, but we had to postpone the date of our wedding because we are now expecting a baby.”
A couple from Paraparaum were heading to help Thompson’s twin brother, who ran out of fuel when their motorcycle collided with a truck on State Highway 1 near the Ohio River Bridge.
Smith and Thompson were seriously injured.
Thompson lost his leg, but surgeons managed to save his badly injured arm.
Smith’s unborn child did not survive, and in addition to this injury she had to undergo major surgery to insert rods into her broken leg.
The couple, who got engaged at the hospital a few days after the accident, have undergone several surgeries over the past year.
It was a difficult and painful time – but they tried to focus on the good, the positive and the future.
“It was difficult to adjust to a new normal life, especially if a person with amputation and partial disorders [and] you need to adjust to relying on people as before [to the crash] we were so independent, ”Smith said.
“Taonga and Mother’s Day were extremely difficult, but our good friends Skye, Tainu and Tash have forever given gifts that can beautifully honor our son and remember him forever.
“Parenting is the hardest thing when we have four children. Not being so active, our children had to adjust to new activities to contact us, which we are so proud of.”
Smith said that despite the difficulties, the couple’s hearts remain full of love and hope.
Finding out she was pregnant again became even more.
“We both cried,” Smith said.
“We knew it would drag on [my next] the operation, however, was a blessing that we are so excited about. ”
Thompson has three daughters, and Smith has a son from a previous relationship.
“Corey always wanted a boy after losing his firstborn,” Smith said.
“He hopes this is our boy coming home.”
The couple, known for their informational work on the Kapiti coast, which helps Maori and Pacific youth, planned the wedding before learning of the pregnancy.
The wedding will still take place, but now the date has been postponed to how the baby will be born.
They are excitedly planning an engagement party and can’t wait to share the growing joy with loved ones.
“Everything is going well, we should be tied up and partying in February 2024 as our 4th anniversary is the moment Corey took me off the market,” Smith said.
“We plan to get married in the Catholic Church; Corey said he was going to be baptized because my only wish is to get married in the church, like my parents, grandparents, who took their oath seriously through God.”
The couple has not yet decided on the venue, but hopes that they, their fans and friends, can easily get together.
Months without work and the ACC meant that it was harder for them to postpone the wedding, but they were determined to hold the wedding of their dreams – and one that was not a financial burden for them or their loved ones.
Along with the joy in their lives, there is a little more pain when Smith and Thompson need further surgery.
Now Thompson has a prosthetic leg and is mobile.
“At first the pain was unbearable from the phantom pain and tenderness – it was definitely a challenge,” Smith said of her fiancé.
“However, he has learned to promote pain and now walks on his feet unassisted and performs normal daily activities much easier than jumping.”
Since being discharged from the hospital after the accident, Smith has undergone three surgeries.
“It was a step forward, two steps back to the very last [surgery]”She explained.
“It gave much more flex to my leg and allowed more mobility in and out of the vehicles, so no longer occupying the entire back seat.
“Pain still remains a problem, and long standing or walking on crutches tends to take its toll, however I have changed medications and are now taking ones that help me and are safe for our baby.”
Smith said the lives of the couple – and the family – changed dramatically after the disaster.
“We are grateful to everyone who helped us along the way,” she said.
The couple said their family – “our children in particular” – supported them.
Both “constantly insisted on the future” and wanted to return to normal family life as much as possible.
And planning – children’s birthdays, their engagements, their weddings, and now a new baby – has helped them stay focused and happy.
Smith and Thompson were looking forward to the day when they would be able to “run with our children again.”
“And our lives in general – we go to family holidays and we can plan and do with children what we might not have been able to do if we had not survived,” said Smith.
The couple admits that there were dark and depressing sections on their way – days when their grief was great and their sorrow deep.
Along the way, they learned some valuable lessons they wanted to share with others who have faced trauma or adversity.
“It’s okay if you’re not okay to cry and feel depressed,” Smith said.
“It’s okay not to want people to be around – there’s no right or wrong way to deal with it.
“Your journey is what you make of it – never let your injury, damage or struggle define you, it’s just one part of your life, and even if you can feel forever and feel better, remind yourself it will not be so.
“Praise every part of your progress, big and small, because when you start looking back to where you were, it will remind you how far you’ve come, and it’s always a positive motivation.
“Night terrors, flashbacks and anxious feelings can happen – the more we talked about it, the more it became normal for us.
“Everyone is different, but now we can tell our story as a piece of our journey, not as a nightmare we don’t want to think about.”
Smith and Thompson wanted to thank those who created the Givealittle page for them after the crash, and everyone who donated more than $ 15,000 to help their family.
“Givealittle was the most financial help, because for the poor before the disaster we could not survive on the payments received,” – said Smith.
“Those who survive on government payments are now much more valued.”