Gwen Rickman, 62, was driving along the motorway northbound to visit her son on a rainy day in July, when she moved over to the inside lane while passing a lorry.
In doing so she drove over a large pool of surface water causing her to aquaplane off the side of the road and slide 20 feet down an embankment.
‘The weather was so bad that day,’ she said.
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‘I shot down this embankment, taking a few trees and bushes with me, rolled several times and stopped at a farmer’s fence by a stream. I remember seeing Alex’s (a passenger in the lorry) bright orange T-shirt, his bushy beard and moustache and hearing his kind, gentle voice.’
Alex Manser, 24, remained by Gwen’s side until the arrival of the emergency services, including three fire engines, police, ambulance service and a helicopter air ambulance team.
The lorry supervisor, who comforted Gwen as she remained trapped in her car, said: ‘I saw a blue Peugeot overtake me slowly, and all of a sudden it whipped across the motorway and shot down the bank.
‘I pulled over immediately – to be honest, when I looked down the bank, my first thought was, ‘I think she’s going to be dead’.
‘When I reached the side of the car I saw Gwen’s face, she looked in shock – but my first thought was ‘phew, she’s alive’.’
But Gwen had no idea how badly she was injured due to the horror crash.
She said: ‘As I understand it, there was no recordable blood pressure at the scene, so I presume I was in a bad way. Well, I was definitely in a bad way.
‘While I was in and out of consciousness, I heard them say they were about to cut my door off.
‘“No, my car’s got its MoT on Friday,” I thought. And I was gone again.’
When Gwen was eventually freed from the wreckage, she was flown to University Hospital Southampton.
‘I fractured my pelvis and fifth metacarpal, broke my eighth rib and cracked two others, punctured a lung and had an open fracture to my right humerus,’ she said.
‘At one stage I was told I might lose my arm.’
Alex added: ‘I walked away from something I can only describe as a horror movie – I felt sick and faint and could not stop thinking about Gwen for days after.’
Gwen was in intensive care for three days and remained in hospital for a further three and a half weeks.
The open fracture to the largest bone in her right arm meant she not only required reconstructive surgery to rebuild her limb, but she now attends intensive physiotherapy at Salisbury Hospital three times a week.
She said: ‘Every day I see improvements. My goal was, and is, to drive again.’
Now Gwen says she cannot thank enough the emergency services crews who saved her life – as well as Alex, who has become her ‘hero’.
The 62-year-old said: ‘He is my hero. He was so calm, so reassuring. When I think of the accident, I don’t feel scared – I just remember Alex. Even though I was in a bad way, I just felt safe with him being there.’
Gwen has since reconnected with Alex on Facebook and met up with him in person.
Gwen added: ‘I have told him how much he means to me.
‘Had it not been for the air ambulance team and everybody who’s looked after me along the way, my story would be a totally different one.
‘They saved my life. It was a horrible day for the air ambulance to have to fly out. And so to be here today, I feel honoured. I’m a very lucky lady.’