‘I’m going to walk again’

Octayvia Nance

NEARLY six years after a horrific accident killed six of her classmates and left her paralysed, Port Elizabeth’s Carly Bonnesse, 18, dreams of being able to walk again.

And she is determined to do so – despite what the doctors say.

She was in Grade 7 at Triomf Primary when an overloaded Toyota Quantum taxi she was travelling in on her way home from school overturned and crashed near the Van der Kemp’s Kloof bridge in Bethelsdorp.

Six children died that day in 2007. Carly suffered the most severe injuries of the survivors, and was hospitalised with brain and spinal injuries, and initially could not speak.

She was left paralysed and later underwent three operations.

“I always dream that I will walk again and I tell them [her mother and grandmother] all the time. I am going to walk again, even if it’s just to the kitchen and back,” Carly said in an interview recently. Her mother, Chantell Bonnesse, says the family lives on hope and prayer.

“My daughter is my angel. I am so proud of her,” Chantell said. “Although taking care of Carly is a 24-hours-a-day job, her condition really has improved over the years because she can talk and use her hands. The doctor still doesn’t guarantee Carly’s condition will get better,” she said.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I had to lose my child in that accident.”

Chantell said although the doctors could not guarantee anything, she believed her daughter would walk again.

However, she said Carly was “very behind” with school because although they had brought in teachers to help out, the teenager found it hard to concentrate for long periods of time. Carly said it was because her “mind gets confused”.

In many ways she is a regular teenage girl, with a love for fashion, and she has words of encouragement for others who have been in an accident and lost hope as a result.

“I just want to tell everybody that they must never give up. I hope they can get better, just like me. I am just happy I have people who support me and I am grateful for what the Lord has given me,” she said.

Carly spent several months in hospital and was only discharged the following year, when she was due to start high school.

At first she had to be fed through a tube and could not speak. As the year progressed, her condition improved and, by the end of 2008, the little girl had made a remarkable recovery and could speak and eat on her own.

“We were still scared to tell her what had happened, but she kept asking about her scars,” Chantell said. “What we tell her is all she knows.”

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