Crash survivor out of hospital in US

18:44, Dec 20 2012
Kirsten Steinke
HOME FOR CHRISTMAS: Kirsten Steinke is ready to leave hospital in Denver after a crash at Waitomo which left Ms Steinke in a critical condition in Waikato Hospital.

Injured American tourist Kirsten Steinke will spend her final day in a Colorado hospital today before returning to her parents' Denver home.

Ms Steinke and her husband, Kallan Stithem, were on their honeymoon in New Zealand when their car collided with a cement truck as the couple exited Waitomo Caves Rd on to State Highway 3 on September 20.

Mr Stithem was killed in the crash while Ms Steinke, 28, was critically injured and spent a month in Waikato Hospital before leaving Hamilton on an international air ambulance flight to her home town of Denver, Colorado.

Yesterday her father, James Steinke, sent the Waikato Times an email saying his daughter was finally ready to leave the specialist traumatic brain injury facility, Craig Hospital.

"So [today] is her last day of inpatient therapies," he said.

While Ms Steinke has no memory of her time in Waikato Hospital, her father said she "clearly remembers virtually everything in her life up until approximately an hour prior to the accident".


Since returning to the US, Ms Steinke's rehabilitation has included occupational, physical, and speech therapies.

"These consume most of the daylight hours and have brought her to the point of complete independence for her day-to-day life," Mr Steinke said.

"Almost every day brings new advances - reduced or eliminated medications, new freedoms in mobility, travel, and exercises."

Ms Steinke will live with her parents in Denver for at least three months as she continues her recovery.

Mr Steinke said there is not a "typical day" for his daughter as her progression has been rapid and consistent.

"Kirsten writes daily, is completely independent on her social media, and regularly visits with friends and relatives."

Waikato Times