It was just a normal workday – three workmates heading to a job in Clevedon. When out of the blue, a car travelling toward them crossed the centre line, crashing straight into the front of their work van.
Two of the van’s passengers were Bailey Hair and Kade Duncan, both Skills’ apprentices in the final year of their electrical apprenticeship.
They were travelling with another workmate when the car rounded the corner and met them head-on. The impact was intense and Bailey, seated in the back, was “ragdolled” forward.
“I got thrown forward. The driver and Kade had minor injuries but I was trapped in the car,” says Bailey. “I couldn’t get the door open and was yelling at my workmates to open it.”
Bailey suffered two collapsed lungs, a fractured spine, fractured hip, broken foot and a broken collarbone. He was airlifted to ICU at Middlemore Hospital.
That was in March 2019.
Talking to Bailey now, however, it’s clear to see that though the wounds have healed, the psychological impact on him has been severe and ongoing. But, he says, recovering at home and having his Skills apprenticeship to focus on was a huge help.
“I still go to counselling every week, it was pretty traumatic – but Skills was great. My account manager, she helped me with everything like booking my block courses and things,” says Bailey. “I just thought I have to be off work, so I can either sit and play PlayStation and watch TV all day or I can get stuck in. So, it was good to have something to work towards, to have a distraction from the injuries.”
It’s this kind of perseverance which really impressed the team at Skills. Antony Russell, Auckland Area Manager for Skills, says that despite the ongoing nature of their injuries, the two apprentices showed a huge level of resilience.
“I think both Kade and Bailey are a testament to how it is possible to overcome challenges and keep on track with your goals,” he says. “We are really proud of both of them.”
Though his injuries were thankfully more minor, Kade says the experience has certainly changed his perspective on life.
“It’s definitely changed. With work and stuff, it still just carries on but I have got a lot more respect for life than I did have. I definitely appreciate the small things.”
Bailey’s of the same view.
“I think it did change my perspective. I feel like you just can’t waste life. So, I do try and achieve as much as I can.”