Karen and William Zahner were involved in a head-on collision on the Mary Valley Highway near Gympie on January 23, 2018. Mrs Zahner was killed in the crash and Mr Zahner faces months in hospital with severe injuries.
Karen and William Zahner were involved in a head-on collision on the Mary Valley Highway near Gympie on January 23, 2018. Mrs Zahner was killed in the crash and Mr Zahner faces months in hospital with severe injuries. Contributed

Survivor of horror crash faces months in hospital

THE survivor of a head-on crash near Gympie faces months in hospital trying to recover from serious injuries while mourning the death of his wife, a friend says.

Karen Zahner died instantly in the head-on crash on the Mary Valley Highway on Thursday afternoon, while her husband, Bill, was rushed to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital in a critical condition.

Friend Emma Grey said Mr Zahner had now undergone several operations, at least some of which were understood to have been for internal injuries, and faced many more.

Ms Grey has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to help Mr Zahner, who she says faces months in hospital followed by many more months of rehabilitation and recovery, all while mourning the death of his wife.

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Karen and Bill Zahner when they first took over the Cooloola Specialist Coffee Shop in 2011.
Karen and Bill Zahner when they first took over the Cooloola Specialist Coffee Shop in 2011. Contributed

Police have said the crash happened when a Ford sedan driven by a 27-year-old man strayed into the path of the Hyundai being driven by Mrs Zahner.

The driver of the Ford suffered minor injuries and was able to free himself from his car.

Police have said the road was empty at the time and the reasons behind the crash were still being investigated, with officers from the Sunshine Coast Forensic Crash Investigations Unit focusing on fatigue and inattention, mechanical failure and drink or drug driving.

Blood samples taken after the crash were being tested, but results were not expected for about six weeks.

 

The horror crash at the intersection of the Mary Valley Highway and Birt Road at Long Flat, just south of Gympie, that left Karen Zahner dead and her husband critically injured.
The horror crash at the intersection of the Mary Valley Highway and Birt Road at Long Flat, just south of Gympie, that left Karen Zahner dead and her husband critically injured. Jacob Carson

Mrs Zahner's death has stunned the Gympie community, where she was well known and ran a cafe with her husband.

"It's terrible," Gympie's QML pathology collector Jo Dodt said.

"Both of them are the most beautiful couple you'd ever meet. They would never say a bad word about anyone."

 

Bee Gees Concert at Gympie Pines Golf Club.  Bill and Karen Zahner.
Bee Gees Concert at Gympie Pines Golf Club. Bill and Karen Zahner. David Crossley

In calling for help for Mr Zahner, Ms Grey said she wanted to raise funds for "unexpected funeral costs, ongoing care and rehabilitation costs, and to meet significant medical needs".

Ms Grey, who launched the fundraising campaign on GoFundMe yesterday, has set a target of $10,000 and, as of 10am today, was already approaching $2000 in donations.

"Any other offers of practical help or assistance will also be gratefully received," Ms Grey posted.

"On behalf of the Zahner family, thank you most sincerely for every donation - no matter how small - and for the love and support they are receiving. It means so much."


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