A man who broke his back and neck when his car rolled eight times with his two-year-old daughter in the backseat has opened up about his guilt.
Humayun Kabir and his wife Ema feel lucky to have survived the crash on the Federal Highway in May, during a trip from Canberra to a Sydney Bangladeshi festival.
Their daughter Muntaha escaped without a scratch, a result the Canberra couple described as a “miracle”.
“It was very foggy, I couldn’t see much,” Mr Kabir said.
“I turned to the right and the car just started rolling and I don’t know what happened really, I went senseless.”
The SUV flipped continuously across the two-carriage highway, landing on the opposite nature strip.
“When I woke up my wife was crying, my daughter was crying and I couldn’t move,” Mr Kabir said.
“I had a broken head, so all the blood started coming and coming all over my body.
“My feeling was that this was the end of my life.”
Mr Kabir used the only body part he could feel — his right hand — to reach out to Muntaha in the car seat that had saved her life.
She was covered in her mum and dad’s blood, but was unharmed.
“When I felt that no she didn’t have any injuries, that gave me strength to know I am not going to die,” he said.
“Every day, when she smiles or cries, whatever she does, it gives me strength.
“Everyone has said it was a miracle she is here.”
Both parents suffered life-threatening injuries; Mrs Kabir broke her skull and suffered several facial fractures.
The couple lost the family-run Bangladeshi restaurant they could no longer manage, faced unaffordable bills and endured four months of medical treatment.
“I just found out just last week I still had glass in my head. It was swollen and I needed more surgery,” Mr Kabir said.
The father has struggled with guilt over the traumatic incident and gruelling recovery, especially in the first few weeks when Muntaha was too afraid to look at her almost-unrecognisable mother.
“She didn’t come close to Ema because she was scared to see her face and that also makes [her mother] sad; she was always crying,” he said.
“This is all because I was overconfident, that’s my mistake. My judgement was bad.”
Misjudging one’s ability to safely control a car at high speeds is a common factor in near-fatal crashes, a recent NSW Centre for Road Safety study found.
A rare chance to rebuild
The family’s insurance covered $50,000 worth of medical bills and loyal customers stepped in to raise almost $12,000 — a gesture that allowed the couple to recently open a new restaurant in the north Canberra town centre of Gungahlin.
Business is slow and even the simplest of tasks remain difficult. Mr Kabir is unsure if he will ever fully recover.
But he is grateful for the chance to rebuild his life — an opportunity the 16 people who had died on ACT roads since January 2016 could not clasp.
He is also appreciative of the valuable community support many of those hospitalised from car crashes would not have received.
Mr Kabir had one message for those who thought their skills behind the wheel would save them from tragedy.
“Please slow down, especially when it’s dark and foggy,” he said.
“Because otherwise it is not only their life they are looking at [losing] but also their beloved family members.”