‘I had time to scream and that was it’ - drink drive victim speaks out
It has been almost 10 months since Rachel Hawley was seriously injured by a drink driver who struck her car head-on.
But the mother-of-one says the memories from the crash, which resulted in her being trapped in the wreckage for two hours, will stay with her forever.
As Norfolk and Suffolk police today launch their annual winter drink drive campaign, Mrs Hawley, from Little Plumstead, has bravely told her story.
The 49-year-old said: “I can remember a black car coming towards me, and I think I had time to scream and that was it.
“The next thing I remember was a man at the side of my car door shouting ‘I can’t get you out’.”
Mrs Hawley had been on her way to Southwold when drink-driver Alexander Aitchison crashed his BMW into her while driving on the wrong side of the A1095.
The impact sent Mrs Hawley’s Mercedes estate into a field, and she was left trapped inside the wreckage as emergency services battled to get her out.
“I had a suspected broken elbow, hip and knee, and I was drifting in and out of consciousness,” Mrs Hawley said.
“But a fireman said I was going to be okay, and then I blacked out again.”
Firefighters had to cut the roof off her car and Mrs Hawley was taken to hospital with multiple injuries.
While she did not suffer any broken bones, she sustained bruising across her body and still has severe pain in her elbow.
Mrs Hawley said that while most of the physical injuries had healed, it has taken a lot longer to overcome the psychological trauma.
“It took me months to get back in a car, and the first couple of times I drove I just cried my eyes out because it makes you think it will happen again,” she said.
“I’ve had counselling and I don’t think I will ever be right.”
Aitchison, 33, of Monewden Hall, Monewden, was found to have 104 milligrams of alcohol in 106 millilitres of blood - the legal limit is 80 milligrammes.
After the crash he was heard to say “I shouldn’t be driving” and alcohol was smelled on his breath.
He was jailed on Wednesday for 12 months after pleading guilty to dangerous driving and drink driving.
Mrs Hawley pleaded for people not to get behind the wheel after having a drink, adding: “It is sheer stupidity and selfishness.”