A HORSE-mad teenager is coping with a double tragedy in her life after an horrific car accident left her paralysed and her boyfriend dead.

Josie Pearson, 17, broke her neck in the head-on collision in May that killed her 19-year-old boyfriend, Daniel Evans.

Now wheelchair bound but vowing to ride her cherished horse, George, once again, the once-promising young horsewoman is showing remarkable courage.

Josie, from Brilley, intends to continue her life as planned, studying for A-levels through Hereford Sixth Form College and leading an active outdoor life.

Her courage and determination are her family's strength. Mum Sue, owner of Hay-on-Wye's Number Two clothes and shoe shops, dad Philip and big sister Freya, find it hard to put on such a brave face.

Devastating news of the accident involving five friends on a bank holiday bowling trip to Newport came on the afternoon of May 5.

"It was a head-on collision. She was initially taken to Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny. They knew she had broken her neck. She was a spinal injury case," said Sue.

Her daughter was transferred to Cardiff's Heath Hospital the same afternoon along with friend James Jones from Hay who had broken his back and his chin, but, luckily, is not paralysed.

Josie's feelings for her own serious injuries were masked by her grief for Daniel, of Cusop, who was pronounced dead at the scene of the three-car accident near Goytre, between Abergavenny and Pontypool.

Her friend Laura Miles suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis and an arm. Miraculously friend Jo Wetherill escaped without injury.

Josie has since been transferred to the spinal unit at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Gabowen, where she is making good progress.

She had broken just two little bones in her neck. It is unlikely she will ever walk again but fortunately she has retained movement in her arms and hands.

By her bedside she has kept this photograph (right)of herself riding George just a few days before the accident.


She returned home to the family bungalow, bought for its plot of land where George lives, for the first time since her accident last weekend.

"She was great, excited to be home and didn't want to go back. She had a few friends around, all the others who were in the crash and a few other people," said Sue.

She held the little party in her bedroom where rosettes marking her riding achievements are lined up in the window.

Josie has been mad about horses since she was a tiny girl. A member of the Golden Valley Pony Club and Riding Club, she had proved a talented pupil.

"We had great hopes for her and she was very keen. At Easter she had come and shown such promise and was committed to her training programme and then, about 10 days later, this happened," said Jane Borwick, district commissioner of the club.

She added: "It's a terrible thing, just like a Christopher Reeve. She has set her heart on being able to ride again somehow."

Friends at the club are planning to raise money for Josie to buy equipment, possibly a lightweight wheelchair, by holding a hunter trials at Cabalva, Whitney-on-Wye, where the club meets, on Sunday, September 28.

Josie's friend, Tracey Garrett from Hay, who taught her to ride when she was about four years old, overcame a fear of water on Sunday to raise funds too.

Watched by a 50-strong crowd, including Josie, Tracey, 36, leaped off the bridge at Glasbury-on-Wye, raising £500.

"I had a major phobia and it started as a joke. I knew I wouldn't jump unless it was for a good reason, for Josie," said Tracey, who will also be attending the hunter trials.

For further information about the hunter trials, to take part or make a donation, contact Jane Borwick on 01568 780533.