Kara Mitsuing describes crash that killed JP Haughey and Sarah Wensley

Survivor talks about the crash, her friends and her road to recovery.

Survivor tells tale of 22nd Street crash and her life after

Kara Mitsuing (CBC)

Kara Mitsuing says she remembers seeing the half-ton truck barrelling through the stop sign to her right.

She couldn't believe her eyes.

Sarah Wensley and J.P. Haughey (Submitted)
​Mitsuing, James Haughey and Sarah Wensley were travelling east on 22nd Street, heading toward the Field House. The trio were members of the Bethlehem High School track team and had a practice that Monday night in May.

"Well, we were just having a casual talk about the upcoming meet that we were supposed to be in, we were just listening to music, we didn't think that anything was going to happen, obviously. Kind of just like a good moment, I think," she said in an interview.

We were in an accident, that's the first thing I realized.- Kara Mitsuing

The half-ton, reported stolen earlier that day, hit the passenger side of Haughey's car with enough force to flip it on its side, drive it across three lanes and pin it against a bungalow.

According to police, both women in the truck were drunk and had previous records for auto theft.

'The next moment I'm laying inside of a car'

Haughey, 17 and in grade 12, was driving. Wensley, also 17 and in grade 12, was in the front passenger seat. Both were killed.

Mitsuing, 16, was in the back seat behind Wensley. She remembers the moments leading up to the impact, and then coming to in the crumpled wreckage.

"We were in an accident, that's the first thing I realized, but I thought how can it be? And second was, Sarah and JP, they were on my mind and I was wondering where they were," she said.

"I was super confused at the time. One moment I'm just looking to my right and the next moment I'm laying inside of a car."

Paramedics and fire fighters scrambled to pry her from the wreck. She remembers people talking to her in the ambulance, and at the hospital. She recalls alternating between excruciating pain, and numbness.

The road back

The crash left Mitsuing with a broken shoulder and a broken leg. It blew out her knee, and fractured 30 bones in her body.

Sarah and Kara (Facebook)
It wasn't until some 72 hours after the accident that her sisters broke the news that her friends hadn't survived.

"I thought they made it, and I thought they were perfectly fine and that they were going to be at practice just the next day," she said.

Mitsuing spent three weeks in hospital, progressing from a wheelchair to crutches to a leg brace. She made it to Wensley's funeral and returned to Bethlehem before the end of the school year. Even with all the support and encouragement, she said It was daunting to return.

I'm going to get back for Sarah and James, get back in track, and just continue from there and remember them as great athletes.- Kara Mitsuing

"Like a lot of people coming up to me and asking what happened and I wasn't ready to talk about it at the time so that overwhelmed me at the time. I just told them I was okay and I was going to stay strong for Sarah and James," she said.

The experience is changing her approach to everything.

"The whole accident was a huge impact on my life and it affected me not only physically but mentally because I lost two close people and it's just hard for me to talk about, that I was involved in the accident," she said.

"It gave me a new perspective on life, it shouldn't be taken for granted and I guess just live life to the fullest because you never know when it's going to be your last."

Mitsuing has to take a year off from sports to complete her recovery. But she vows that she'll back on the track in time for the 2015 meets.

"I'm going to get back for Sarah and James, get back in track, and just continue from there and remember them as great athletes."

The two women in the stolen truck are in jail and facing a variety of charges.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.