Ballykelly pensioner ‘lucky to be alive’ in heartfelt appeal

The condition of the car after Monica was cut out by the NI Fire & Rescue Service.
The condition of the car after Monica was cut out by the NI Fire & Rescue Service.

A 73-year-old Ballykelly woman left with horrific injuries following a collision before Christmas has made an appeal to find the emergency personnel who comforted her as she was cut free from the wreckage.

Monica Cooke suffered six broken ribs in her chest, a broken ankle, broken knees and severe bruising as a result of the collision on the Seacoast Road on December 22.

Recovering ...Monica Cooke.

Recovering ...Monica Cooke.

Monica’s daughter, Kate, said it’s a miracle she came out of the crash alive.

“My mother is in very bad shape. She has one leg in plaster, and the other bandaged. She is very shaken up and shocked by it,” said Kate. “She’s lucky to be alive.”

Monica is recovering in Altnagelvin Hospital, where Kate said she will likely stay for several months.

Kate said her mother has been told it could be a year before she is able to walk, and at least several months before she is able to move.

Kate, on behalf of her mother, wants to track down the emergency personnel who were at her side as she was freed from her vehicle.

“She says all she remembers is a man with a blonde beard and an English accent holding her hand as they were cutting her free. She was screaming, and and he held onto her. She thinks he was a fireman. She said there was another man holding her other hand along with the fireman, and she said he had a wooly hat on. She said they were fantastic, and she really wants to thank them,” said Kate.

Kate says her mum hopes to reunite with the emergency personnel officers who comforted her.

“All mum can remember is all the faces looking at her. She said it was the weirdest sensation,” said Kate.

“She could hear all the commotion, and she was panicking, but the officers were being very calm.

“She was screaming and she said the men who held her hands were lovely.

“She is so thankful to them, and said her heart went out to them because it made her realise what they have to deal with on a daily basis.

“She really wants to find them and say ‘thank you’.”

The family have also praised the medical staff at Altnagelvin for their care.

“Mum is very independent and now she can’t do anything,” said Kate.

“She can barely breathe and she feels like she is a burden on everyone. She is devastated she can’t do anything.”

Kate added: “The staff in Altnagelvin have been fantastic.”

A PSNI spokesperson said the investigation into the collision on Seacoast road “is ongoing”.