A semi-conscious motorist who lost her memory when her car careered into a 15ft ditch has praised police for tracking her down – via her mobile phone.
Lara Williams, 39, was driving her Citroen C3 at night when she lost control, ploughed through a hedge and ended up in a ravine.
The mother-of-two suffered amnesia after smashing her head on the steering wheel and also sustained a broken hip, a fractured vertebrae and broken shoulder.
She was able to dial 999 but could not recall where she was or what had happened.
Lara told emergency operators: ”I’ve just had a car crash and I don’t know where I am.
”I think I’ve come off a country lane and banged my head. I think I’m down a ditch.
”I don’t know where I was driving to. I’m out in the sticks somewhere. My hazard lights have just come on.”
Emergency operator Will East took the call at Gloucestershire Constabulary’s control centre and spoke to her for 40 minutes while officers tried to pinpoint her location.
Using phone masts in the area, they narrowed her location to a 4km circle.
A rescue team then worked its way inwards and finally heard her cries to help in a tree-covered ditch between Northleach and Stow on the A429 in the Cotswolds.
Lara was taken to Cheltenham General Hospital where she remained for six week following the incident in September last year.
She is still off work but hopes to return to her role as an NHS secretary soon.
To this day, Ms Williams, of Tredworth, Gloucester, still cannot remember how she came to be there or where she was going and has paid tribute to the emergency services for saving her life.
She said: ”I feel humbled to know just how epic the scale of the rescue was – and all for me.
”Will East really kept me going. His tone of voice was so calming and it was his reassurance that stopped me giving up.
”If it wasn’t for him I really wouldn’t be here now.
”I would like to meet him and say thank you. He made me feel as though I’d known him for ages.
”I don’t recall details of the accident, and it’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve been getting my memory back properly.
”After hearing the tape of my 999 call back again, I think the whole rescue was absolutely phenomenal and the communication was fantastic. I feel lucky – more than lucky really.
”I am slowly getting my strength and confidence back and I am determined to drive again.”
Phone operator Will East said: ”I knew it was very important to keep Lara talking to me because it was essential to locate her as soon as possible.
”I could tell from the conversation we were having that she was badly injured and so I needed to get as much information as I could.
”I’ve spoken with her and we are going to arrange to meet up soon. I’m really glad that she’s now getting better.
”For Lara to say that she doesn’t think she would be here now if it wasn’t for me, makes me feel very proud.”
Sgt Mark Woodward, of the Control Centre, added: ”Lara was fading in and out of consciousness which is very apparent in the calls. Will remained calm, helpful and reassuring.
”It seems like he is asking the same thing over and over – but his motive is in trying to elicit just that little bit more information to help locate her, to check on her welfare and to ensure she remains conscious. I don’t think we can ever underestimate what they both did that night.”