A make-up artist has relived the harrowing moment she was caught up in a fatal car crash that killed her friend and left her with permanent injuries, after deciding to hitch a ride to a New Year’s Eve party.
Tahlia Mardini was just 16 years old when she and her friend Tegan Galea-Elson went to a house party at Punchbowl, in Sydney, in 2017.
The pair decided to hitch a ride to another party in Chester Hill in time for the countdown to midnight.
The driver, 18, was high on prescription drugs and speeding before he lost control of the vehicle and it crashed into a parked ute.
A make-up artist (pictured, Tahlia Mardini) has recalled the harrowing moment she was caught up in a fatal car crash that killed her friend and left her with permanent injuries
Ms Mardini was sent into a coma for five weeks suffering from a broken jaw, nose, cheek bone, eye socket and brain injury
The driver, 18, was high on prescription drugs and speeding before he lost control of the vehicle and it crashed into a parked ute
Ms Galea-Elson was killed and Ms Mardini was sent into a coma for five weeks suffering from a broken jaw, nose, cheek bone, eye socket and brain injury.
She has also been left with permanent vision loss in one eye and loss of hearing in her right ear.
Ms Mardini has opened up on her traumatic experience six years later labelling her injuries a ‘life sentence’ saying she wouldn’t wish it upon her ‘worst enemies’.
‘No one thinks it’ll ever happen to them,’ she told A Current Affair. ‘It all happened so quick.’
Ms Mardini and Ms Galea-Elson were two peas in a pod since meeting the first day of Year 9 at Sylvania High School, in Sydney’s southeast, in 2015.
Three years later, the pair, then aged 16 and 17, were excited to be spending their first New Year’s Eve together when they arrived at the house party in Punchbowl.
As the clock edged towards midnight, the girls decided to relocate to a friend’s place in Chester Hill to watch the fireworks, but they were hesitant about spending their few dollars on catching a taxi.
When Ms Galea-Elson’s friend Yassin El Seidi called and offered to give them a lift, the teenagers were relieved they could hold on to their cash.
Tahlia Mardini was just 16-years-old when she and her friend Tegan Galea-Elson (left) went to a house party at Punchbowl, in Sydney, on New Year’s Eve in 2017
The driver was on a cocktail of prescription drugs tramadol and diazepam when and had been weaving through traffic at dangerous speed at the time of the crash (pictured)
But as soon as the car took off, Ms Mardini started to feel uneasy.
Moments later the car rammed into the back of a parked ute in Yagoona with such force the ute bent a power pole it was thrown into 10m down the road.
But first, the ute tray had smashed through the passenger side, hitting Ms Galea-Elson then Ms Mardini from their chest to their heads.
Witnesses rushed out of their homes and called paramedics, but Ms Galea-Elson had already lost too much blood by the time they arrived at the scene.
Ms Mardini was taken to Liverpool Hospital where she spent more than a month in a coma before having to start life over ‘from scratch’.
‘I can’t begin to explain how s**t it is to wake up one day and be told you survived but your best friend didn’t,’ she previously Daily Mail Australia.
‘I broke down, I had so much guilt in my heart. Why did god save me and not her? I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy.’
The car (pictured) slammed into the ute with such force the ute was propelled 10 metres down the road into a power pole
As she adjusted to her new life, she found herself being targeted by bullies over her horrific injuries that forever altered her life and appearance.
She picked up a TAFE course in make up artistry to learn how to cover her scars and to redirect her focus away from the tragedy.
Ms Mardini shared her story as a reminder for drivers to take care on the road with the death toll rising sharply in 2022.
Some 1,089 people were killed, an increase of 62 from the previous year.
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury urged drivers to take care on the roads and not take unnecessary risks like speeding or running through red lights.
‘You can’t legislate against stupid but you can certainly take their licences off them and their cars,’ he said.
‘It’s important that we take the right and sensible measures to make sure we get through this festive season and through the new year safely.’