A newlywed American tourist injured in a crash which killed her husband is on her way home to Colorado on an international air ambulance.
Kirsten Steinke, 28, and her husband Kallan Stithem, 31, were involved in a car accident near Waitomo Caves on 20 September.
The pair were in New Zealand on honeymoon.
Steinke arrived at Hamilton Airport just after 8am in a private ambulance with her mother Gerri, and a specialist American medical team. Her father Jim Steinke left for America last night on a commercial flight.
Ms Steinke was wheeled from the ambulance covered in a red blanket and was carefully loaded onto the Lear jet aircraft.
Prior to the flight she remained inside the ambulance on the tarmac while final preparations were made by the American crew from Air Ambulance Specialists.
Her mother, Gerri, came into Hamilton Airport terminal to pick up supplies from a bookstore with one of the medical team.
Ms Steinke will be cared for by a registered nurse and respiratory therapist on the almost 18 hour flight home which will include a stopover in Hawaii for a crew change.
The flight will then depart for Colorado where Steinke will be taken straight to a specialist rehabilitation unit to continue her recovery from the crash.
Stithem's parents returned home to Denver, Colorado three weeks ago with their son's ashes. A vigil attended by more than 100 people was held for him in downtown Denver.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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