‘The date from hell ended in car crash that left me in a wheelchair and scarred for life’
A woman was in a car crash during a date from hell... which left her in a wheelchair and scarred for life.
Kiaha Kurek, 35, met a man on Plenty of Fish and they were driving to the cinema for their first date when he stopped mid-turn, she said.
The catering business owner was in the passenger seat when they collided with another vehicle travelling at 50mph.
It smashed into the passenger side - and Kiaha had to be cut from the vehicle.
Her pelvis and several ribs were broken, and her leg was completely shattered, requiring reconstructive surgery to insert pins.
Told she may never walk again, it took her a year of treatment and recovery to get back on her feet.
Now married to Bartek Kurek, 45, Kiaha has had tattoos to cover the scars on her legs - and says they are a reminder of her "worst date ever".
Kiaha went on her Plenty of Fish car crash date in November 2012. She went to dinner with her date, who told her he was also 24, but was actually a newly qualified 19-year-old driver, she said.
She said her date was keen to show her his new muscle car - so she agreed to a cinema trip. But they had barely left the car park when they found themselves in the path of a 50mph oncoming traffic, she said.
Kiaha said: "We went to turn left and he just stopped dead, halfway through the turn."
She woke up, and heard a banging sound, which she realised was the car being cut open.
She said: "I tried to get out of the car and realised I was injured. It hurt so much I passed out again."
She was bundled into an ambulance and rushed to the emergency room at Oregon Health and Science University Hospital.
She recalled begging for painkillers - and doctors eventually revealed an extensive catalogue of injuries, including internal bleeding and a lacerated liver.
Seven-hour surgery to put her shattered femur and pelvis back in place, and she had a blood transfusion. Left in "excruciating pain", she was given an epidural to numb her body.
After a fortnight in hospital she was discharged and had to move back in with her parents because she was unable to live independently.
She said: "I couldn’t dress myself, feed myself, or do anything by myself. I couldn’t leave my bed, and that was the worst - having to rely on others to do everything for me."
A physical therapist would visit daily, and it took her six weeks to take a single step, during which time she used a wheelchair.
Kiaha said she didn’t hear from her date until a few weeks after the accident: “He revealed he had lied about his age, and was only 19. I was very upset he lied - he was a very new driver.”
Kiaha filed for bankruptcy, due to her $1m medical bills. She opted against suing her date and put the accident behind her, she said.
Getting back on her feet in the aftermath was the "hardest part" where she would wake up every morning in "absolute agony".
The process took a year in total - starting in a wheelchair, then moving to a walker, then crutches, then a cane, before finally walking unaided.
She was left with a huge scar on her leg - which a year later she concealed with a tattoo to help her move on.
Reflecting on the journey, she said: "When it comes to dating, you have to be aware of how much trust you put in people. Trust your gut instinct - if it says don’t get in the car, listen to it. Listen every time."
More than a decade on now, Kiaha is married to husband Bartek and the couple share two dogs.
Kiaha added: "On our first date, I called my best friend and said 'I think I've found my future husband' and I had. It was the total opposite of that first date from hell, and I'm so happy now. Sometimes life just happens, you can wallow in it or do something different and move on."