Harrowing post: ‘I thought I killed her’
WARNING: GRAPHIC PICTURE
A Cairns woman has recounted the details of a harrowing car crash that landed her in jail.
Caitlin Peacock, 21, has taken to Facebook to share the experience that "turned her life upside down".
Recounting the crash on November 6, 2018, Ms Peacock said she was driving recklessly using both sides of the road, cutting corners and speeding while her sister and two other friends were inside the vehicle.
As the car came up to a corner along Lake Morris Road - which spans a number of reserves near Cairns - she turned the wheel, which locked. The car left the road and fell into a three-metre embankment.
"As soon as I crashed I remember hearing a seatbelt unbuckle. That noise woke me so I undid my seatbelt, grabbed my phone, opened the driver's side door and crawled up a three-metre bank to get to the road," Ms Peacock said.
"I lay on the road realising I've made a huge mistake.
"One of my passengers had broken his leg, I was unable to walk and my sister was unresponsive and trapped in the car for some time. I thought I had killed her."
After Ms Peacock called triple-zero, paramedics took the group to hospital.
It was here the sisters lay side-by-side.
Ms Peacock also underwent a police drug and alcohol test which came back negative.
"All I wanted was for everyone to be OK," she said.
As a result of the crash, Ms Peacock's sister - who was in the front passenger seat - was knocked unconscious and remained hospitalised for weeks, needing daily memory checks.
One friend - who was sitting behind Ms Peacock - broke his leg while the other passenger had hamstring injuries.
Ms Peacock was discharged the next day with a few cuts and bruises and knee fractures.
"I had nightmares every night for the first week … I still get them every now and then," she said.
"I can't describe the pain and suffering everyone went through and I will be forever sorry for what I did."
Over the next months, the quartet were called to provide police statements. Ms Peacock told the group not to lie for her because she "deserved whatever happens".
After making her statement, she was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing grievous bodily harm.
"I have never been in trouble with the police before; I've never even had a parking or speeding ticket," she wrote.
"I had several meetings with my lawyer and, a week before my sentencing, they told me that there was a highly likely possibility that I was going to have to serve time in custody. It was at that point everything became real.
"Even though my lawyer said 'you might go to jail' I didn't believe them. I thought to myself I haven't had any previous criminal history, I had a great job, just got accepted into university and even had eight character references to help my case."
Ms Peacock appeared in court on October 21, 2019, supported by her family and partner Shane Bates.
"The judge said 'in order for you to learn your lesson you're going to have to serve some time in actual custody, so I sentence you to an 18-month sentence, serve 3 months in prison and then the rest is wholly suspended for two years."
She also lost her licence for a year.
"I was shocked. I was in tears. All my family behind me were as surprised as me," she wrote.
"The watch house guard let me say goodbye to everyone quickly before they took me away. I hugged everyone so tightly and then I came to my partner and I just couldn't do it, I couldn't say goodbye. It was really hard."
After spending five days in the watch house, Ms Peacock was flown to Townsville Women's Correctional Centre where she later completed a certificate two in business and lost 30kg.
She was reminded of home as she looked at the four images she had in her cell: one of her cat; one of her two dogs; one with her mother, sister and herself, and another of her and Mr Bates.
However, she did miss "important things" while away, like her mum's birthday, Christmas, New Year's and her one year anniversary with her partner.
"It was a good experience for someone my age and for someone like me to go through all that," Ms Peacock said.
"I spent three months away from home without anyone I knew. I was limited in talking to the people I love; 10 minute phone calls costed me $8-$10 a call.
"I would get a lot of letters and cards which kept me going."
It was not until she was released on January 20 this year that she "finally got to hold everyone again".
By sharing her experience, Ms Peacock hoped young people would be informed about the possible consequences of having an accident.
"I want young people, learners, P-platers to understand that it's not about having fun in a car ride. It's about being safe and getting your passengers to their final destination safely."
Originally published as Harrowing post: 'I thought I killed her'