'Bubbly' teen won't walk again after being hit by car

Oceana Cameron, 16, has been described as bright, bubbly and loving. Photo: Supplied
Oceana Cameron, 16, has been described as bright, bubbly and loving. Photo: Supplied
A bright and bubbly Rotorua teenager has been left with an uncertain future after being told she won't walk again.

Oceana Cameron, 16, was hit by a car on Te Ngae Rd last Tuesday.

Police are still investigating the incident, which has put the Rotorua Lakes High School student in hospital for the foreseeable future.

Oceana's older sister Leah Newson spoke exclusively to the Rotorua Daily Post about the journey ahead.

"From the accident to this reality hitting has been a very short time.

"We're all devastated. It's hard enough to be 16 as it is."

After the collision, which occurred about 6.35pm, Oceana was taken to Rotorua Hospital where family members were told a broken back was among her injuries.

"We didn't know the full extent of what had happened."

Just before midnight, she was taken to Middlemore Hospital via helicopter then spent three days in the intensive care unit, Newson said.

Police investigate the crash scene on Te Ngae Rd where a pedestrian was hit by a car. Photo: NZME
Police investigate the crash scene on Te Ngae Rd where a pedestrian was hit by a car. Photo: NZME
"My dad and her mum drove up on Wednesday morning first thing and went straight into a meeting with the head of departments in the spinal team.

"They were told as soon as they stepped in she had severed her spinal cord so wouldn't be able to walk unassisted again.

"To go from having full function. To not be able to use her legs is huge. But she's a strong girl and will work hard to maintain her life. But it looks very different for her now than it did a week ago."

A week ago Oceana was "a normal teenager" enjoying the school holidays and hanging out with friends. She was training for the netball team she had been named a part of.

Now the family wonders when she will be able to go back to school.

Oceana had a 12-hour surgery the day after the crash to fix her broken collar bone and put plates and screws in her back for support.

Looking forward, she'll spend another three weeks or so in the ward before moving to the spinal rehabilitation unit for three months, maybe more.

Newson said her sister seemed to be handling the news well and they were supporting her by sending her messages and photos.

"She's quite a tough kid. It would take a lot to rock her. She's just focused on getting well and getting home."

As for when that might be, it's too early to tell.

"But from what we know, there's no chance she'll walk again."

Newson described her little sister as "bubbly, bright, cheeky and a very loving kid".

Oceana's treatment is covered by ACC, as are any alterations which may be needed at the family home.

But a Givealittle page has been set up for the family to help ease the financial pressure of accommodation, travel and daily living costs for family members by her side supporting her and her four dependent siblings.

As well as half-sister Newson, Oceana has an older brother who doesn't live at home. But there are four other siblings aged between 5 and 13 who do.

"Her mum was working full time and is going to have to take a step back," Newson said.

"They'll be back and forward, sharing the responsibility having to organise kids and making sure they are at school.

"No matter how you look at, it it's a lot of time back and forward. A lot of staying over or organising children, food, the whole lot.

"We're pretty lucky there are a few of us [who can help]. There are lots of people that love that girl and are willing to help."

The Givealittle page wasn't set up with a goal in mind, Newson said. It's there to take the pressure off the family who have been in a hotel in Auckland since Wednesday.

"It's taken quite a big toll in a small amount of days.

"It's been a week but it feels like it's been forever."

At the time of the crash there were reports of children playing chicken with cars before it happened. Newson said that wasn't what they'd been told by police but they were still investigating and the family was more concerned with the way forward than what had happened.

"It's kind of fallen by the wayside."

Easy Firewood Rotorua has donated some prizes and organised a raffle with proceeds going to the Givealittle page for Oceana.

They are selling 200 tickets at $10 each or three for $20 and there are three prizes; one trailer of boxwood, one ute load of boxwood and half a ute load of boxwood.

East Firewood co-owner Kirsten Bangs works at the youth centre during the day.

"Working with youth is something I'm very passionate about so that hit home to me. This is a 16-year-old who's had a life-changing event, I just wanted to support her."

Bangs said they response had been overwhelming and they had sold a quarter of the tickets in 24 hours.

As of yesterday morning the Givealittle page had raised $1500.

"We are blown away as a family by the love and support of our community," Newson said.


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