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'My story of hell' - Woman lost two family members in a crash caused by truck driver on meth

It was a sunny day in Whangārei. Bridget Eilering was picked up from work by her mother-in-law Julie and grandmother-in-law Dolly.

(From left to right) Max, Lola, Mabel, Pearl, Bridget and Nick. Source: Bridget Eilering

Bridget was recently engaged, and Dolly had just celebrated her 78th birthday. They were going to visit Dolly's sister Nancy at a dementia clinic.

What happened next was unimageable, within a moment Bridget's life was changed forever.

Julie was driving and Bridget was in the back seat. They were travelling in Oakleigh, a notorious black spot.

A truck coming in the other direction crossed the centre line and smashed into their car. Immediately the car was shunted down the bank.

Dolly and Julie were killed instantly. Bridget survived but had two broken arms and was struggling to breathe from the impact of the seatbelt.

She was airlifted to Whangarei Hospital in a critical condition.

The man driving the truck was on methamphetamine.

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Bridget Eilering has responded to the campaign with her story of losing her mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law in a crash caused by a truck driver on methamphetamine. Source: Supplied

A bad decision instantly cost the lives of two innocent people.

When she arrived at the hospital, they found her bowel had ruptured, Bridget was not in a good state.

She was put into an induced coma for six days. When she woke, Nick, her now husband, told her both Dolly and Julie had already been buried.

"When I woke from the coma and found out they had died I was really devastated, I was in disbelief."

"Recovery was really long and extremely difficult as I couldn't use either of my arms. I also thought that I'd never be able to have kids," she said.

Bridget and Nick have since had four children.

The man who killed her grandmother-in-law and mother-in-law got nine months detention for careless driving.

He showed no remorse in court and "completely disrespected our family", Ms Eilering said.

This was in 2001, but Bridget Eilering has since shared this story as part of NZTA's drug driving campaign "Unsaid" where people who have experienced the impact of drug driving can share their stories.

NZTA have had over 200 submissions and are at the half way mark in the campaign.

Ms Eilering said it was important for her to spread awareness about the issue as it's not often talked about.

She said she is still fearful travelling through Oakleigh but says she has finally come out the other side of what was "absolute hell."

"You never think it'll happen to you, but when it does your life changes."

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A new $2 million advertising campaign has been launched aimed at those who drive after taking drugs, but critics say the ad misses the mark. Source: 1 NEWS

These incidents are not uncommon, an example of a recent accident involving drug driving occurred in south Taranaki in June last year.

The driver had been smoking synthetic cannabis before being involved in a two-car-crash at Waverley On June 27 that killed seven people, including a child and a young baby.

NZTA said in a statement that one in four drivers killed in 2017 had drugs in their system and one third of people who take drugs admit to driving with drugs in their system.

NZTA spokesperson Andy Knackstedt says, "too many people are unaware of the harm that can come from drug driving ... it's often not talked about in the same way as other causes of crashes." 

"At the time of the crash it is often not known that drugs were involved.  Many families are reluctant to come forward about the harm drug driving has caused them, given the stigma that can exist around drug use."