By HARRY CLARKE
ONE of the teenagers hospitalised after a crash at Chinchilla two weeks ago has returned home an “extremely lucky girl”, while her best friend continues to fight for life in a Brisbane hospital.
Sixteen-year-old Bree Critch suffered severe facial injuries when the ute she was a passenger in speared off the road on Wambo Street on May 31 and crashed through a front yard.
Her fellow passenger, 16-year-old Cassi West, was flown with critical head injures to the PA Hospital in Brisbane where she’s remained in intensive care ever since.
Bree’s father, Don Critch, told the Caller his family’s thoughts were now “with Cassi’s family and helping her get through” as his daughter returns home to Chinchilla after two weeks in hospital at Toowoomba.
“Bree’s going very well in the circumstances,” Don Critch said.
“Scans showed that she didn’t have any skull fractures or neck injuries but she had a bad cut on the right side of her face that she needed closing up.
“They think something from outside the cab (of the ute) has come in a struck her, but that’s just guessing.
“She was about a millimetre away from severing the nerve that controls the side of her face, so she’s an extremely lucky girl.”
Mr Critch said Cassi West’s family wished to express their deep gratitude to the Chinchilla community for its support throughout the trauma of the past fortnight.
“I did speak to Michael (Cassi’s father) and she’s still fighting,” he said.
“They wanted to say a special thanks to everyone in the community who’s reached out. They’re overwhelmed with the support they’re receiving.”
In a public post on Facebook, Cassi’s mother Helen West wrote: “Our family would like to thank everyone for their on going support, it means so much to us. Cassi is continuing to fight so hard & we are extremely proud of her”.
The Critch family also thanked the wider Chinchilla community for its support.
“We’re very lucky and Bree’s very lucky that her injuries are nothing that time and money won’t fix,” Don Critch said.
“She’s got to go backwards and forwards for ongoing surgeries but our thoughts are now towards the West family and getting Cassi through.
“We’re so appreciative of the amount of support we’ve received from businesses, community groups and the hundreds of people who are messaging us. It’s really nice.”
GoFundMe pages supporting West and Critch families. CLICK TO DONATE
Police continue to investigate the cause of the crash. They appealed for any witnesses who saw the grey Toyota Landcruiser ute as well as a light coloured Landcruiser Prado in the Wambo Street area leading up to the incident.
The young male P-plate driver of the ute was not injured. It remains unconfirmed what role the second vehicle may have played in the crash. It’s understood police believe excessive speed was a factor.
Mr Critch said Bree and Cassi, who are both in Year 11 at Chinchilla State High School, are best friends who had been together at the gym and were picked up by the ute before the crash.
“Bree has no memory of what happened,” he said.
“She has memory of leading up to the crash, even though I was told she was conscious when they got her out.
“The last thing she remembers is that they were at the gym and they got picked up.
“The police visited her in hospital to see if she had any information but she wasn’t much help to them.”
Mr Critch also acknowledged the driver of the ute which crashed, saying he hoped the incident served as a warning for young drivers about the dangers of getting behind the wheel.
“I can’t speak for the West family, but we’ve all done stupid things as kids. I certainly did things when I was younger that could have gone pear shaped, too,” he said.
“It was an accident. It was a stupid decision and I just hope that the other kids take something from it. I’ve got no bad feelings against the lad. It was a stupid mistake. They’re all best mates and he obviously didn’t want that to happen.
“Sometimes there are consequences that can change many lives.”