A teacher has told how she cheated death when her car was horrifically crushed beyond recognition between two lorries.
Katie Holt’s VW Golf was mangled into such a small space that the emergency services didn’t realise it was there at first – let alone there was a survivor trapped inside.
The 39-year-old was cut from the wreckage and airlifted to hospital where she was treated for skull and back fractures and a broken left arm.
She spent ten days in hospital before returning home and it took around two months for her to get her memory back and learn to walk.
The driver of the skip hire truck which hit Katie pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and got six penalty points.
Katie, who has just become a mum for the first time, has now received an undisclosed settlement from the insurers of the skip company after bosses admitted liability.
She has recovered enough to return to work but in a less senior role.
The money will be used to help her cope with vision and hearing problems, severe headaches and memory loss.
Speaking for the first time about her miracle escape Katie, from Colchester, Essex said: “I’m lucky to be here.
“When I saw the photos of the crash I was astonished. It’s amazing what the human body can do.
“I put 100 per cent into my recovery and it has not been easy.
“Doctors said that the extent of the collision they were surprised I hadn’t severed the tendons from my skull to my shoulders.
“But they said it wasn’t as bad as it could have been because I was quite muscly and robust, and that I was ‘clearly in good nick’.”
She added: “I still have no recollection of the crash and can only remember coming round in the hospital.
“After seeing the pictures of the accident I feel incredibly lucky to be here.
“I can only hope what happened to me will illustrate to drivers, particularly those driving large vehicles, of the long-term consequences of even a slight lapse in concentration on the road.”
Katie was driving to work at Felsted Preparatory School when she stopped in queuing traffic on the A120 near Braintree, in December 2014.
But she was struck from behind by Kevin Mann, 51, and the impact from his skip hire truck sent her VW Golf under an container lorry in front.
Katie, who used to be in an assistant head role, was trapped for more than an hour.
Those at the scene who called the emergency services were initially unaware Katie’s car was between the two lorries as it was crushed into such a tight space.
She was airlifted to Royal London Hospital where she underwent an operation to restructure her arm and shoulder.
She suffered a deep cut to her left eye, damage to her optic nerve, a fractured skull, upper arm, shoulder joint and two chipped vertebrae.
She spent ten days in hospital but has little memory of the following eight weeks and still suffers problems.
The English teacher also had to learn to walk again after suffering numbness and weakness in her left arm and leg.
Mann initially denied driving without due care and attention but changed his plea to guilty on the day of his trial after being shown a technical investigation report.
His tachograph revealed he had not braked in time, ruling out that ice was a factor, Colchester Magistrates’ Court heard.
He was handed a £350 fine, given six penalty points and ordered to pay a £550 costs and a £35 victim surcharge.
After being discharged from hospital Katie moved to stay with her parents so they could care for her while her husband, Rob, a fellow teacher, was at work.
She said: “It is difficult to put into words how much of an impact this incident has had on my life.
“Physically I now suffer with vision and hearing problems, as well as pain in my arms and legs.
“I have managed to get back to work but due to the ongoing problems I’m suffering due to the accident I know my career progression will be hampered by the long-term impact of the accident
“Thankfully, I have been able to make a good recovery and now that a settlement has been agreed I know I’ll be able to access the treatment that will see me improve even further.”
Katie, who gave birth to daughter Ella three weeks ago, returned to full time work in September, and has won compensation from the insurers of Colchester Skip Hire.
Laura Murphy, an expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who represented her, said: “Katie’s escape from this collision and her recovery has been nothing short of a miracle.
“I know she wants to thank the emergency services for their swift response to the accident and the speed at which they got her out of the vehicle and to hospital.
“This incident illustrates just how serious consequences can be when drivers do not take their safety, and their responsibility for the safety of others, seriously.
“The outcome of this incident could have clearly been much worse and the driver admitted to driving without due care and attention.
“We are glad to have been able to secure Katie a settlement from the insurers of the skip company that will enable her to continue the good work she has been doing since the accident and enable her to access the rehabilitation services she currently requires.
“We hope she will now be able to put this terrible ordeal behind her and begin to focus on what the future holds for her and her family.”