Crash horror: The girl who lost her arms – first-aider’s message of hope

A Queenstown woman who was first to offer first aid to a girl who lost both arms in a tour bus crash says she thinks about her every day, and believes the girl has what it takes to overcome the adversity.

Tour guide Megan Phillips, 27, was with her family at a beach near Wilson Bay on January 21 when she heard a loud bang and felt “something isn’t quite right”.

She rushed to the scene and saw a tour bus had crashed on its side and the sight of the injuries some of the passengers suffered were horrific.

Almost immediately, her attention was drawn to the little girl who was covered in blood and was without both her arms.

“She was incredibly calm, but her mom was screaming and her dad was frantically going around trying to find her severed arms. They were absolutely freaking out,” Phillips said.

“They found one arm and an ice-pack to put it in, but it’s so sad to read that they were not able to reattach the arm.”

First-aid trained Phillips said she was one of two first aiders at the scene, the other was an off-duty nurse.

“We did what we could before the ambulances arrived and I was just with the little girl, comforting her, and she was really cool and didn’t panic,” Phillips said.

“We were chatting away in English. It felt like a lifetime for emergency services to arrive … I gave her a little pat on the head and wished her well as they took her away.”

The tour bus driver Liang Fang last week failed in his appeal against his sentence in the High Court of Invercargill.

Fang was driving a bus and trailer operated by Awing Travel NZ Ltd carrying 23 Chinese tourists when it crashed on Wilson Bay, near Queenstown.

He admitted to charges of careless driving causing injury and had been sentenced in June in the Queenstown District Court.

Fang was sentence to 200 hours’ community service and disqualified from driving for nine months.

Besides the 10-year-old girl, who has statutory name suppression, another woman also lost an arm, and 20 people were treated for injuries by St John staff.

Immigration New Zealand confirmed last week that the girl had returned to China with her family.

Philips said she was pleased to read that she was back in her home country.

“However it hurt me to read how much it had broken the poor girl’s spirit. I think about her every day and how brave she was … her calmness and logical mind was well beyond what was expected from her years,” she said.

“I wish to send her words of love, inspiration and hope for her future and how I hope to read in the future about her as an amazing ballet dancer who rose above disability to dance around the world.”

Phillips said she believed that with the support of her loving family, the girl will have what it takes to overcome what life had thrown at her.

In June, when the Herald visited the Auckland serviced apartment in Newmarket where the family was staying, the girl was afraid to come out of her bedroom.

Her mother said her daughter’s confidence and sense of security were shattered and the once extroverted girl – who loved to dance – was now afraid of seeing people.

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