Fareham teen makes miraculous recovery after horror crash left her with brain damage
WHEN Penny Chipps was horrifically injured during a horror motorbike crashÂ her dismayed family were left fearing the worst.
Clinging to life, she had been left brain damaged, with a punctured lung, broken leg, wrists, collarbone, shoulder and jaw.
The 18-year-old part-time Subway worker had also crushed vertebrae in her spine from the crunching force of her crash, near Havant and South Downs College in Crookhorn.
The extent of her injuries were so severe, doctors placed her into an induced coma, while all her family could do was sit anxiously by her bedside, waiting for a sign of lifeÂ not knowing the full impact of her brain injury.
That was at the end of September. Fast-forward little more than two months later and Penny has astounded her loved ones at the speed of her recovery.
The brave teen, of Fareham, has been discharged from hospital and is now looking forward to Christmas after narrowly dodging death.
Speaking to The News for the first time, she said she was well on the way to making a near-perfect recovery.
Former St Edmund's Catholic School pupil Penny said: '˜I'm extremely thankful to be alive. It still hasn't hit me that I was in an accident.
'˜I had such a near-death and experience, I could have lost everything I have worked my life for.
'˜I'm so thankful I get to spend Christmas with the people I love the most.'
Young Penny had been riding her custom-painted purple Honda CBR 125 near the college, where she studies outdoor adventures, when the crash happened.
She was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital where she spent almost two weeks in coma.
Dad Steven Chipps, 46, of Portsea, said: '˜Of course we feared the worst. I had dark moments at the beginning. She looked horrendous. We didn't know how bad it was.'
Unbeknown to Penny, friends and family had been by her beside the whole time, while the biking community of Portsmouth had organised a charity fundraising rally in her honour.
'˜My last memory before the accident was going to sleep at home with my boyfriend Bailey '“Â then I woke up in hospital with my dad next to me,' she said.
Slowly, Penny began to regain her speech, although she still struggles with her memory.
Boyfriend Bailey, 20, of The Moorings,Â Fareham, spent every free moment he could with Penny while she was recovering in hospital.
He is now looking forward to spending their first Christmas together '“Â and putting the ordeal behind them both.
Reliving the first time he saw her after the crash, he said: '˜I was walking down to the ICU (intensive care unit) and she was wheeled past me.
'˜I saw how she looked and just dropped to the floor. I was in such horror and shock. I couldn't believe it.'
Penny was transferred to Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, and was discharged a few weeks ago.
Bailey added: '˜That short time she was in hospital I didn't know what to do with myself. I'm just over-the-moon she is still here. Now she is back home, it's like the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for.'
Penny's dad Steven blown away by herÂ courage.
'˜It's been unbelievable,' he said. '˜It's remarkable how quickly she has come back '“ it's actually taken us all by surprise how quickly she has recovered.
'˜I'm very proud of how she has taken this all in her stride.'
Penny now has her eyes set on the next milestone of her recovery journey, the removal of a protective cage on her leg, which she hopes will be off before her 19th birthday in March.
Her brain injury is expected to be almost fully healed by this time next year.
Eager to head back to work as soon as possible, Penny added the support from her family, boyfriend, friends and the whole community '˜meant everything' to her.
And in a special message ahead of Christmas, she said: '˜To know that so many people cared for me when I really needed it amazing, it means the world.
'˜I really just wanted to say thank you to everyone and I hope you all have a great Christmas.'