Leading junior racing driver Alicia Harrison. Photo / Included
One of the shining young stars of New Zealand horse racing is lucky enough to be alive after a horror car accident on his way to Saturday’s Karaka Million gathering.
Leading junior harness driver Alicia Harrison has been taken off the track for months after she was involved in a head-on crash near Cambridge on Saturday afternoon.
“It was very scary,” Harrison says from her bed at Waikato Hospital, “one minute we’re having a great time, the next we could have all been dead,” Harrison says.
Harrison was traveling in a car with three friends when they were hit by a ute traveling south, near Tahuna, about 30 minutes outside of Cambridge. They were on their way to the Karaka Million meeting in Ellerslie. The accident happened at 2.15pm.
“I was on the phone and I heard this screaming,” Harrison says.
The ute hit their car, destroying it, before hitting a second car as well.
The impact was so great that Harrison, who was sitting in the backseat on the passenger side, broke her sternum and suffered burns to her seat belt.
“I felt my internal organs move — it felt like I was on fire.”
Eight people were taken to hospital, two of them in serious condition. Some have had surgery, although the injuries are not considered life-threatening.
Also among the injured was Harrison’s friend Danielle Green, who works with her at Arna Donnelly’s stables in Cambridge.
Harness racing is the sister code of thoroughbred racing, so Harrison and her friends didn’t go to the meeting to work, but enjoyed the racing action.
“We’ve been very lucky,” said Harrison, a former winner of the New Zealand Junior Championships.
Harrison now awaits weeks of rehabilitation.
“I was not happy when I heard that I will not be driving back (race day) for at least three months.”
“There will be no lifting for six weeks…I know I have to be careful.”
Last Thursday, Harrison had talked about her “special” win when she drove The Sportsman to victory in the Revell Douglas Memorial Junior Driver series at Cambridge.
The race is part of a series honoring noted harness trotter personality Douglas, who drowned last January.
“I rode for him a few times when I started. It was great to win a race in his memory,” she said at the time.
Harrison expects to be “in the hospital for at least another day. They’re examining me from head to toe today.”
-HRNZ news desk