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The only woman involved in a quad bike crash which left a little girl in critical condition says she was sober and has been pressured into taking the blame because of that.
Four adults and 6-year-old Ashlee Shorrock were on the quad bike when it crashed down a ditch on Okaihau Rd near Waimarama Beach in Hawke's Bay shortly before midnight on Wednesday.
Twenty-two-year-old Stephanie Lucas is the first of those involved to break her silence.
She told the Herald on Sunday she couldn't remember who was driving but claimed the three men with her had asked her to tell police she was driving because she was the only one who had not been drinking.
"I wasn't intoxicated," Lucas said. "I had one drink all day. All I remember is one of the boys was driving. I know what we did was stupid but we are always on that motorbike and have driven that road thousands of times."
Police have confirmed they took blood from all four adults on the night of the crash, but had not been able to confirm who was driving.
Lucas believed the driver should own up. "I can't remember. If I did I would tell the police.
But they know who was driving and someone needs to own up," she said.
Lucas said she was sitting on the front of the quadbike holding her step-daughter Ashlee when they were thrown from the vehicle.
Ashlee's father, Daniel McGregor, and his two friends Kevin and Reece, whose surnames are yet to be released, were also on the bike. She said they had been drinking on the beach before driving up to a lookout shortly before midnight.
"I didn't want to go. When we went past the house I asked them to stop and let me off so I could put Ash to bed. But they said we would only be five minutes. I regret that. We should have got off," Lucas said.
"We were on the way back down the hill when we crashed. We went right when we should have gone left on a bend on a broken, steep road.
"I took the full force of the fall to protect her. I have track marks on my back from the bike going right over me. If I hadn't been holding her I think it could have been a lot worse. All I remember is waking up with Ashlee between my legs. It was so scary I can still hear her screaming," she said.
Lucas had a broken jaw and a severed little finger which had been stitched back on.
"I look like the walking dead. They had to cut my face open to get the stones out. I just want my baby with me. I love that little girl. I would never do anything to hurt her. I'm mum. I have been there for her."
She has been a step-mother to Ashlee since she started a relationship with Daniel six years ago.
Ashlee was taken to Starship Children's Hospital in a critical condition on Thursday but is now stable in the intensive care unit.
She has five broken ribs, a broken arm, broken collar bone and had been in an induced coma.
"She is awake now. There is nothing wrong with her brain."
Lucas and a 29-year-old man were discharged from Hawke's Bay Hospital yesterday, and a 20-year-old man is in a stable condition.
Ashlee's maternal grandmother, Nancy Dunnage, said her daughter Sara was on her way to Auckland to visit Ashlee in hospital.
"We're just waiting to hear how she is," she said.
Daniel McGregor's uncle, Steve Petrowski, said his nephew had been transferred to Middlemore Hospital after losing feeling in his legs.
"It's very worrying. He has two broken legs and a broken pelvis. We are just waiting to hear how the wee girl is doing," he said. McGregor had spent seven hours in surgery to fix his legs.
Lucas' father Stephen was angry the focus had been on his daughter.
"Steph had only one drink earlier in the day but the other three were pretty well nuked from what I gather," he said.
"It could have been a morgue I was visiting today."
- By Joanne Carroll of the Herald on Sunday