The family of Karina Menzies spoke today of the “gaping hole” her death has left in their lives, as a court was told details of the horrific afternoon during which she was killed by hit-and-run driver Matthew Tvrdon.
In a statement read on the steps of Cardiff Crown Court, Ms Menzies’ sister Samantha described Karina as “a doting mum who would do anything for her children”, and that she was “like a mother figure to the rest of the family”.
She said: “She helped us, gave us advice whenever we had problems, and she was very hospitable whenever we called to see her. She was so dear to us all.”
“We miss her so much,” she added.
Samantha now looks after Karina’s three daughters Sophie, aged 11, eight-year-old Ellie, and three-year-old Tiana. Ellie and Tiana also sustained serious injuries in last October’s attack.
Samantha said: “The only thing that keeps me going is bringing her girls up.
“I see Karina in every one of them, which is comforting.
“They are doing really well. Naturally they are sad at times, but they live life from day to day which is exactly what children should do.
“They are inspirational children and are an absolute credit to my sister.”
She went on to say that she hoped her sister’s children would grow up to be strong, independent women with good jobs, and that she would put all her time and effort into ensuring they grow into “the superstars that they already are”.
She thanked the emergency and medical services at the University Hospital of Wales, naming in particular Dr Tuthill, and the community of Ely for their support.
Following today’s hearing, where the prosecution accepted Tvrdon’s guilty pleas to 32 charges, statements were also made by some of the other 13 victims who sustained serious injuries on the afternoon of Friday October 19.
Mother and daughter Gill and Rebecca White, who were injured when Tvrdon attacked Gill with a steering wheel lock before running both women over at the Asda supermarket in Leckwith, thanked family and friends for their support during their “traumatic and life changing experience”.
They said: “We also wish to express our deepest gratitude to their paramedics who attended at the scene, the air ambulance crew, the medical staff who cared for us at the University Hospital of Wales and Morriston Hospital.”
“What happened to us on 19th October 2012 has dramatically altered our lives and coming to terms with what has happened is, and will continue to be, a constant struggle.”
Both women also offered a “personal and heartfelt thank you” to members of the public who stayed with them until the emergency services arrived on the day, as well as South Wales Police, before sending their “deepest sympathy” to Karina Menzies’ children and Tvrdon’s other victims.
Renee Selio, who was injured along with her daughters aged 10 and 12 when Tvrdon struck them with his van on Grand Avenue, described the last seven months as a “terrible ordeal for my family.”
She said: “My children and I are slowly recovering but frequently have nightmares and flashbacks, we are struggling, but learning to live with our injuries and we would appreciate if we could be left to recover in private.”
Mrs Selio added her thanks to the medical staff for their “amazing care”, the police for bringing Tvrdon to justice, and fire fighters at Ely Fire Station who came to her and her daughters’ aid in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
Detective Chief Inspector Ceri Hughes, senior investigating officer with South Wales Police’s specialist crime investigations team, said Karina Menzies was a much loved sister, daughter, friend and “above all a devoted mother to her three girls”. She said Karina’s family had shown “tremendous strength and courage coming to terms with their tragic loss”, and thanked them for supporting the police investigation.
DC Hughes said: “The events of Friday, October 19th 2012 changed the lives of many people; children and adults are still recovering from physical injuries and psychological harm, traumatised by what they experienced that day, and of course Karina’s family and friends continue to grieve.
“There has always been a strong sense of community in Ely and South Wales Police has been overwhelmed by the positive response from residents in not only helping each other but also our investigation.”
She expressed gratitude to the victims and witnesses in the case, and also praised the bravery of the firefighters, ambulance and hospital staff who worked in “unprecedented circumstanced to provide the best possible care to those involved in these tragic events.”
Matthew Tvrdon is due to be sentenced tomorrow afternoon at 2pm.