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Bembridge Teacher Still Suffering Six Years After Horror Motorbike Crash

(c) Simon Lennon

A  teacher involved in a horrendous crash on Isle of Wight while riding on the back of her partner’s motorbike in 2018 that shattered her ankle was later awarded a six-figure settlement but said she still suffers pain and cannot wear high heels.

Maria Iglesias-Garcia, 47, a school teacher from Bembridge, and her partner Michael, 53, were driving home from his vape shop in Newport when they were struck by a car and sent flying across the road.

Maria, who was in her final year of university at the time, remembers lying on the road and screaming in pain before being rushed to hospital, where surgeons reconstructed her left ankle with metal pins and plates.

She spent the next year-and-a-half on crutches, struggling to walk and relying on taxis to run errands, but refused to let the traumatic accident derail her dream of becoming a teacher and still managed to complete her university degree before going on to secure her “dream job” at a public school on the mainland  a few years later, in 2022.

After the accident Maria took legal action against the driver and was awarded £195,000 in damages to cover future medical costs – she is now calling on car drivers to pay more attention to motorbikes, saying: “the law says you have to wear a helmet but I could have lost my leg.”

To this day, Maria said she has to take breaks when walking long distances and she is likely to require more surgery in the future to replace her ankle altogether.

She can also no longer keep fit by running which she really enjoyed before the accident and can no longer wear high heeled shoes.

Maria said:

“This has been a horrific ordeal. I wish I had never got on that bike.

“For years I had to put my life on pause and I can never get that time back.

“I am still here and I didn’t die but when I think about all the things I could have done in that time it upsets me.

“Now I feel I can no longer look nice in a pretty dress as I can’t wear high heels anymore to go with it when I go out.

“I  still have a lot of pain and it’s never going to go away. 

“One thing is for sure, I will never get on a motorbike again.”

Maria was in her final year of studying to become a teacher at London South Bank University and had been working at Michael’s vape shop in Newport in July 2018 when her life “changed in an instant”.

She was travelling home on the back of her partner’s new Honda motorbike when a car suddenly pulled out of a side road and crashed into them.

The pair were catapulted off the bike and on to the other side of the road.

“The car hit my leg and I just remember being on the floor, on the other side of the road, and I was in so much pain, I was screaming,” she said.

“It was terrifying to hear that  at the time as I didn’t know if I would ever walk again.”

Maria was rushed to St Mary’s Hospital on the Island where medics operated on her ankle telling her that the bone had ‘shattered into tiny pieces.’

She had two operations on her ankle with pins and plates before going under the knife a year later to remove some of the metalwork.

But despite her pain she continued working at her partner’s shop after the accident to pay the bills as it was the couple’s only source of income.

She continued:

“I could have cried. There was no choice. I didn’t  want to go and had to get a taxi there everyday and sit in the shop with my leg up.

"But we needed to pay the bills and my partner was still in hospital. My family were all in Spain.

"Those six months after my accident were the most painful and traumatic of my life. I didn’t know then if I could ever become a teacher. I was really low and was in so much pain.”

Maria struggled through the pain on crutches to complete the final year of her university course but then also had to delay her PGCE teaching course by a year.

After completing them the following year she was forced to spend 2021  as a teaching assistant instead of a teacher due to ongoing complications with her ankle.

In 2022 she finally realised her dream of becoming a teacher - three years after she originally planned and later became  Foreign Languages Teaching Lead at private Cumnor House School in Croydon.

The leading independent fee paying boarding school for boys and girls aged up to 13 have supported her medical condition.

To teach at the school she commutes two hours each way from her home on the Isle of Wight spending her weekdays at school before returning home to the island at weekends.

She said:

“I get the ferry from the Island to the mainland and train to and from school and get home on Friday night and leave again on Sunday night for school all week.

 “I tried to learn to drive but I had to stop as I was too scared. I am always on edge now and have good days and bad and can’t stand for longer periods.

"I just have to learn to adapt and live with it and my school and mentor have been great accommodating me.”

Wearing high heels is also no longer an option for Maria, who finds them extremely painful and finds trainers are the most comfortable.

Maria has been told in the next 10 years she will need to have either ankle replacement surgery or ankle fusion surgery privately, and still suffers from osteoarthritis, a condition where the protective cartilage on the ends of her bones has broken down.

After the accident she contacted Express Solicitors, who specialise in motorbike crashes, and with the help of her lawyer Colette McCann was awarded £195,000 in compensation in August 2023 after initially refusing a £30,000 settlement.

Ms McCann said:

“Sadly Maria has learned the hard way how dangerous motorbikes can be.

“This settlement will go some way to securing her future and shows just how quickly your life can change.”

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