Denver woman hurt in accident during honeymoon in New Zealand returns home

Kirsten Steinke now dealing with brain injury

DENVER - It was supposed to be a trip to celebrate their new marriage but it turned into a tragedy for a Denver couple. 28-year-old Kirsten Steinke is now home in Colorado to continue her rehabilitation.


Steinke and her husband, 31-year-old Kenneth Stithem, were involved in an accident near the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand in September. The accident happened a week after their wedding. Kenneth was killed in the accident and Steinke suffered significant injuries. For more than a month she was undergoing treatment in New Zealand. Last week, doctors said she had recovered enough to take an 18-hour flight back to Denver to continue her treatment.


Steinke's father said his daughter remembers very little about the accident and it is not clear if she knows what happened to her husband.


"She's not cognizant of everything that's occurred," Jim Steinke said. "She's struggling with where things are."


Steinke is now dealing with a brain injury. She's already undergone several surgeries including one on her jaw. Family members are confident she will be able to make a recovery. Her father said he wants his "vibrant, loving" daughter back.


"Every day more of her life comes back to her and she's more and more capable of looking at a full life again," said Jim Steinke.


Officials in New Zealand said there was yet another deadly accident Friday at the same intersection where Steinke was injured. Police say a Canadian tourist was killed at the intersection when her car was hit by a truck. 

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