Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Her Fighting Spirit Still Shone through; Tribute to Smash Victim Who Battled for Eight Years

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Her Fighting Spirit Still Shone through; Tribute to Smash Victim Who Battled for Eight Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Scott

PARENTS of a girl who has died eight years after a horrific road accident have paid tribute to her.

Ashleigh Cowen, 20, suffered brain damage when she was hit by a BT van on her way home from school in May 2002.

The accident left her unable to speak or move, and though she recovered to the extent that she could communicate with her parents, she has now died.

Parents Michelle and Michael paid tribute to their daughter's memory as messages of condolence flooded in from friends, family and people whose lives Ashleigh had touched.

Michelle, 46, of Leander Avenue, Chester-le-Street, said: "Having eight-and-a-half years more than we thought we would with Ashleigh has not made this any easier. In fact, it is probably harder because the more time you have, the more you want."

Mrs Cowen added: "She had her mischievous side, she was always laughing. Before the accident she was a very active, very fit, cheerful and friendly child.

"Her personality certainly still came through after the accident.

"It just took her a while to get used to her disabilities. She would still have her little bolshie ways."

Ashleigh was just 12 when her life changed forever. She was struck by a BT van after getting off her school bus with her sister Nicola near their former home in Ouston. The accident left her unable to move or speak.

"She was such a little chatterbox before the accident which made it really hard after," said Mrs Cowen. "We just wanted to hear her voice again.

"If we could have anything back it would be her voice so she could tell us how she was and what she was thinking."

Ashleigh's only way of communicating with her family was through blinking, one blink for "no", two blinks for "yes" and a series of blinks for other things.

Mr Cowen said: "She was a fighter and she proved a lot of people wrong, an amazing amount of people. …

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