A woman paralysed from the neck down after drink driving has opened up on the horrifying accident.
Melissa Ann, then 18, from Tallahassee in Florida, the US, had a few drinks during a game of beer pong at a house party before getting behind the wheel of her pickup and starting to drive home in August 2008.
She pulled up next to a car on a merging lane which cut her off “at the last second”.
Melissa – whose friend was in the passenger seat – slammed on the brakes to avoid an accident, and was thrown 75ft through the open window.
She broke her neck in five places, damaged her spinal cord, and was left paralysed from the neck down.
Now 30, Melissa told the Real Fix podcast: “Once my truck started flipping after getting caught on the shoulder of the road, neither one of us had put on our seatbelts for whatever crazy reason and we flipped about eight to ten times.
"And during the course of that flipping I got thrown out of my truck.
“I landed 75ft away from my friend and it looks like I came out of the vehicle first based on where we landed, and then she landed further, right next to where the vehicle had stopped flipping.
"So the guys that had ended up finding us, they said that if it had ended up flipping one more time, it would have ended up completely crushing her.
"One of the guys who was next to me, he did say to me that I squeezed his hand a couple of times, and that's how he knew that I was OK.
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"And who would have ever, ever known that even after the crash and the injury that that man's hand would be the last hand that I would ever squeeze again."
Melissa now speaks to other drunk drivers and young people about the dangers of drink driving.
After the accident, she was in a coma on a ventilator for 10 days before she was transferred to a rehabilitation centre in Atlanta, Georgia.
Her friend escaped with a broken pelvis and tail bone.
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Melissa spent two months in hospital where she regained movement – but not feeling – in a single muscle in her arm.
She still has no feeling below the neck but has regained some movement in her arms, thanks to tireless rehab work.
She added: "Would I want my feeling and movement back like used to have? Of course – that would be crazy to say that I want to be paralysed.
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"But at the end of the day, if that would mean that I was everything that I have learned before, and the heart for humanity that I have gained, even with all the physical losses, I wouldn't want to change it because I wouldn't want to know what sort of person that I maybe would have ended up becoming if I did stay stuck in that pattern of just simply living for myself."
Melissa, who has gone on to gain a bachelors degree in human communications, uses an electronic wheelchair to get around.
She wrote a book – Hope, Love, and Me: My Journey of Choices and Second Chances – and gives regular public speaking engagements.
Listen to the Real Fix podcast here www.real-fix.com/real-fix-podcast or subscribe using the appropriate podcast platform here https://plnk.to/realfix.
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