Double-fatal survivor’s screams haunted hero dad
A TEENAGER who had her "little life shattered" in a horror crash in Cranbourne is fighting for life in hospital as her family thanks a stranger who came to her aid.
Dakoda Nicholson, 17, suffered critical spinal injuries in the crash that killed two of her friends on Sunday and saw her boyfriend put behind bars yesterday.
Her aunt Donna Nicholson described the teen as a stunning and funny young woman.
"I'm shattered, absolutely shattered," she said.
"She is the funniest, most vibrant girl. She's stunning. Her little life is now shattered."
The Nicholson family was rallying around the girl from Frankston North, who remains at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
It brought the family some solace to know Dakoda was being looked after by a father of three who rushed in to help the teen.
"God bless him," Ms Nicholson said.
Supply chain manager Peter Hooper was at the McDonald's on the South Gippsland Highway when he saw accident unfold about 4pm on Sunday.
Without a second thought, he sprinted to the cars, stopped traffic and searched for survivors.
"I found Dakoda hanging out of the car," Mr Hooper told the Herald Sun. "She was trapped.
"She was screaming and she was talking to me."
The Cranbourne East dad spoke with her and kept her as calm as he could.
The bodies of her friends were still in the crumpled wreckage beside her while the father assessed her injuries and made a plan to get her out.
He acted quickly because petrol was pooling under the vehicle.
He stayed by her side until emergency services took over.
"On Sunday night, I did not sleep," Mr Hooper told the Herald Sun.
"It was Dakoda's scream that was running through my head.
"I just want Dakoda's family to know she was looked after. We did all we could."
The 17-year-old was in a critical condition after the crash and has improved slightly since.
The Cranbourne East father said he acted off a mixture of instinct and training.
It was not until the victims had been taken away in ambulances that he had a chance to stop and reflect.
"First aid training helps you know what to do in the situation but they don't tell you what to do after the situation," he said.
"It wasn't until afterwards that I sat back and thought, 'I just dealt with dead bodies'."
His wife and three children, aged 17, 14, 11, watched on from the restaurant as Mr Hooper worked to save the teenager.
Dakoda's friends Byron Hampton, 16, and Jordy Kirkwood, 18, died in the crash.
Her boyfriend Jack Ledlin, 18, appeared in the Dandenong Magistrates' Court on Tuesday after being charged with stealing the car.
He cried and made the threat to set fire to the court if he didn't get to see his girlfriend, who Mr Hooper helped.
Ledlin, from Baxter, faced seven charges including the theft of the Holden Commodore involved in the crash on August 11.
He is expected in court again today for a bail application.
A family in another car - a 39-year-old Lynbrook woman and two girls, aged 6 and 9 - was treated for injuries.
Driver Dylan Cassidy, from Frankston, remains in hospital under police guard.