Jeffreys Bay woman flourishing again after car crash claimed her unborn baby: 'I kept asking if my baby’s OK'

2019-06-24 18:21
Laurika Pretorius. (Supplied)

Laurika Pretorius. (Supplied)

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"If the accident hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be where I am now," 39-year-old Laurika "Pixie" Pretorius tells us on the phone from Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape.

In the background, three-year-old Lloyd is whining for his mom.

"I’ve been blessed with another boy," she tells us.

In 2006 Laurika woke up in a hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, Gauteng, while doctors were stitching up her face. "I kept asking if my baby’s OK," she recalls.

She’d been five months pregnant with a little girl when a car accident claimed the baby’s life. Laurika suffered serious injuries but her son Brandon (then 4) miraculously survived the head-to-head collision on a turn-off between Rustenburg and Pretoria.

"When I see other little girls dressing up for their moms, it saddens me. But I’ll see her again someday, with Jesus."

'My nose was flat, crushed'

A scar stretches from the left of Laurika’s face, across her nose to the corner of her right eye.

"I’m constantly aware of it. My nose was flat for seven months. Crushed. It had to recover after doctors broke it again so it could heal properly."

But she hadn’t let the accident ruin her life – though she spent three months in a wheelchair and 11 years on two crutches. She now walks with only one crutch.

In this time she gained weight but has slowly but surely started exercising again. When she went back to gym, she weighed 71kg – overweight for her 1.54m petite frame – and she’s since lost 11kg to weigh 60kg again.

"My muscles account for most of my weight," she says proudly.

"We don’t just work with the outward appearance, we also work with what’s going on inside"

Now she owns her own gym, Faith and Fitness, in Jeffreys Bay. Here, she’s been helping clients for the past year to find a path through difficult circumstances and regain their joy.

"Exercise is therapy," she reckons. "It’s restoring my self-confidence. Women feel bad about themselves and then they overeat. Many of my clients open up about their problems. We don’t just work with the outward appearance, we also work with what’s going on inside. That’s why I’ve called my small studio Faith and Fitness. I want to make people happy – that’s my goal," she explains.

One result of the accident is that her right leg is 5cm shorter than her left, which makes walking a struggle. She wears special built-up shoes to help correct it.

"If I exercise my leg muscles, it helps to straighten my gait and align my body."

Laurika Pretorius

After the accident doctors warned her against pregnancy.

"The doctors said if I were to fall pregnant again, I wouldn’t be able to give natural birth because my pelvic bone had been crushed in the accident. But it’s healed well and Lloyd’s birth was a natural one," she says.

"He’s one of the many miracles in my life," Pixie says. She was given the nickname because as a teenager she had a fascination with fairies and would sometimes dress up as en elf with a pointed hat.

"One does funny things at that age," she laughs.

"My son [Brandon] is a teenager now and it takes a lot of patience from my side," she says.

'It’s a miracle he wasn’t hurt'

"It’s a miracle that he wasn’t hurt at all, but it was hard for him back then because I couldn’t pick him up and carry him or play soccer with him like I had before. He had to learn to be independent and to help me carry stuff around. We’re extremely close."

Pixie, who grew up in Carletonville, Gauteng, was living with her father in Kimberley, North West, at the time of the accident. She moved to Jeffreys Bay two years ago to be closer to her mother.

Pixie is now engaged to Lloyd’s father, Lood Engelbrecht (50). "He’s extremely supportive and has been by my side for the past eight years. We met when I was still on crutches and having operations," she says.

Her mom, Jenny James, couldn’t be prouder of all the progress her daughter has made.

"She’s amazing. I believe her story is powerful and has the ability to inspire many young people. She knows what it’s like to hit the lowest of lows," says Jenny, who’s a receptionist at the Savoy Hotel in Jeffreys Bay.

Pixie reckons if it hadn’t been for the accident, she might’ve been worse off.

"I wouldn’t have found the Lord the way I have. Jesus carried me here. [Before the accident] I was self-involved and did the wrong things but the accident was a wake-up call.

"If Jesus had taken me that day, I would’ve gone to hell. He gave me a second chance, along with the strength to get back up."

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