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Crime Killed

Model nearly died after drunk-driver crash broke nearly every bone in her body

'In a way, I feel like I've survived twice.'


  • Apr 21 2024
  • 91
  • 6445 Views
Model nearly died after drunk-driver crash broke nearly every bone in her body
Model nearly died after drunk-driver crash broke nearly every bone in her body

A model who broke almost all major bones in her body in a crash with a drunk driver has said she ‘survived twice’ after attempting to take her own life.

Rachel Downes, then 28, was driving to a photo shoot when she was hit head-on, putting her in a coma for three weeks.

When she asked doctors what bones she had broken, one told her ‘it’d be easier for me to tell you what isn’t broken’, before pointing at her shins and saying ‘just these’.

Unable to rationalise why she had been involved in the crash, Rachel, from Stoke on Trent, attempted suicide.

Rachel said: ‘Thankfully – and I mean that with every fibre of my being – I never succeeded. But it’s extraordinary to think that I went from being so close to losing my life in the car crash to then attempting to take it.

‘In a way, I feel like I’ve survived twice. I suppose that’s the butterfly effect in practice – one person’s decision to drink-drive has had all of these unimaginable consequences.’

At 10am, on November 21, 2021, Rachel, who was a part-time model, was heading for a photo shoot and driving along the A51 Rugeley Bypass when she was hit head-on by a drunk driver.

She was not expected to survive the crash: ‘It honestly feels like it was a dream. When I woke up from the coma, my body felt heavy and I couldn’t move much.

‘It’s not something you can really imagine unless you’ve experienced it yourself. I wanted to be up on my feet right away. I don’t think I even questioned why I was in the hospital to begin with.’

An MRI scan revealed the full extent of the damage done to Rachel’s body – she had suffered a brain injury and broken the top of her spine, part of her shoulder, her humerus on both sides and her elbow.

Rachel had also broken eight to 12 ribs, shattered her pelvis and broken her knee and right femur, as well as scarring all over her body.

A breathalyser test after the crash showed that the driver had 61 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Rachel’s inability to rationalise exactly why she had been involved in the crash brought about some dark trains of thought.

She said: ‘For a while, it felt like me against the world. I’m not a spiritual or religious person at all, but it did make me think ‘How could God, the universe or whatever there is out there cause this to happen to me?’.

‘But there I was, asking myself what I’d done to deserve it. That’s not something that you can come to terms with overnight.

‘For a lot of 2022, I went into a really dark place because I was so angry and I was in so much pain.’

In September 2022, Rachel tried to commit suicide. She said: ‘The crash also eroded my autonomy and any plans that I might have had for the future and that hurts more than anything physically.’

In July 2023, the offending driver, aged 23 at the time of the collision, was sentenced to 28 months in prison and disqualified from driving for 38 months, having pleaded guilty at Stafford Crown Court to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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