Survivor of freak accident to take on half marathon
MUM Sonali Das Simpson was collecting her daughter from school when she was crushed by her own car in a freak accident.
She suffered a catalogue of horrendous injuries including more than a dozen fractured ribs and two collapsed lungs.
After being given lifesaving chest surgery in the car park of the school – and then taken by air ambulance for further treatment in hospital – Sonali went on to make a miraculous recovery.
“I was parked on a slight incline on a grassy area,” said Sonali, recalling the horrifying incident in June 2015.
“I opened up the back door on the passenger’s side to let my daughter Caitlin into the car.
“She climbed in and managed to knock off the hand brake. The car started rolling towards me with her in it.
“I tried to stop the car as best I could but the weight of the car pushed me over.”
The car ran diagonally across her chest and then kept on travelling down the incline.
Amazingly, despite her devastating injuries, Sonali managed to get up and check on her daughter who had managed to jump out of the moving car.
“Even though the car had just crushed me, I somehow managed to get up and make sure my daughter was OK,” she said.
“They say people with a lot of adrenalin going through them can do ‘superhuman’ things like lift incredibly heavy things. I think my motherly instinct just kicked in.
“Caitlin ran over to me and started crying. It was at that point I fell to the ground.”
Luckily an off-duty GP was on the scene when the accident happened at the primary school in Porthcawl.
“I remember asking Caitlin to get my mobile phone from my handbag so I could phone work and tell them I wasn’t going to be in.”
An ambulance was immediately called to the scene, followed by a helicopter from the Wales Air Ambulance which reached her in just nine minutes.
She was treated by Dr Dinendra Gill, Dr Craig Williams and critical care practitioner Chris Connor – all part of the socalled “Flying Doctors” critical care team on board the air ambulance.
They gave the distressed mum lifesaving chest surgery in the car park of the school before taking her to Morriston Hospital in Swansea for pioneering surgery on her ribs.
“If they hadn’t been there and given me the vital blood products I needed I would have died,” she said.
“The paramedics were excellent, but they couldn’t have done the things the on-board consultant did. The Flying Doctors are saving lives – and I’m proof of it.”
Despite suffering extensive injuries and being placed in an induced coma, Sonali made a remarkable recovery which the medical staff said was partly down to her excellent fitness levels.
After 16 days in hospital, 13 days in the intensive care unit, Sonali was able to go home to recover.
“I have a few aches and pains now but nothing more than that. Having a bit of a sore back is a small price to pay for being alive,” said the optician.
She is now planning on taking on the Cardiff Half Marathon this Sunday with the help of Team Brecon Carreg.
For every mile the team of 10 runs, Brecon Carreg will donate £1.
Sonali added: “The Wales Air Ambulance are lifesavers in every which way that term can be used.
“This is a way for me to thank them. I am honoured that our team will help fund more lifesaving call-outs.”
Mark Stevens, Wales Air Ambulance fundraising manager, said: “As a charity, we rely on support and donations to raise the £6.5m needed every year to keep our four helicopters flying.
“We would like to thank Sonali and Brecon Carreg for their support, which is helping to fund our missions across Wales.”