Chloe's road to recovery after head-on drink driver crash
19 December 2019
Chloe was in a coma for nearly a week
Broken legs, a shattered elbow, multiple breaks to the pelvis, a broken sternum, arm, jaw, cheek bone and eye socket, and internal damage to the spleen, kidneys and heart.
Despite these horrific injuries sustained from a head on crash caused by a drink driver, Chloe Dean from Ashford does not let what was an almost life ending experience define her.
She’s learning to live again, to walk and be able to play with her young children – striving to be the person she was before the accident. And while others would feel anger, her wishes for the man who is now serving time for causing her ordeal, are that of learning, rehabilitation and positivity.
The remarkable 29-year-old mother of three continues to rebuild her life 18-months on, and is now sharing her story in the hope of preventing further accidents caused by drink drivers - providing a wake-up call to anyone who’s considering drinking and driving this Christmas.
On 17 March 2018 at around 6pm, Chloe was driving on the A28 when she was hit by a car from the opposite direction, head on, by a drink driver.
Emergency services were called and firefighters cut her out of her vehicle, which was completely written off, and she was handed into the care of paramedics. She was blue lighted to King's College Hospital in London and needed three blood transfusions on the way.
Chloe underwent several large operations
Chloe said: “When I arrived at hospital it was a free for all to find out everything that was wrong with me. They were continuously finding additional, extensive injuries, and as they fixed one thing something else would be discovered. Doctors decided to put me into a medical coma as I was due to need a lot of surgery and it was safer to keep me under.”
In the first week alone, Chloe had eight operations with some lasting up to 12 hours. Once the larger operations were complete, doctors woke her from the coma, and following three months of surgery and intense physio to learn to walk again, she was allowed to return home to her family.
Over a year-and-a-half on, Chloe is still striving to get back to full health and has hope that the person who caused the crash will learn from his mistakes.
She said: “He had a huge amount of alcohol in his system and now he’s in prison as a result of the accident - I believe he got three years. I have no hard feelings and I’d like to think the prison sentence will change his opinion of drink-driving and that he’ll be able to take positive action and learn from the experience.
“I hope he realises the impact drink-driving has, not just on the person directly involved, but the family and friends behind the scenes who are affected. The pain spreads a lot further than I think some people realise. And he has a family too, who will also feel the repercussions of his behaviour.”
Chloe feels lucky to still be here to enjoy a family Christmas
With Christmas just around the corner, she’s now urging others to drive safely and not to risk having even one drink before getting behind the wheel.
She said: “For me now, it’s about passing the message onto others so they can learn before it’s too late.
“If you’re going for a night out and you can afford to drink, you can probably afford to get a taxi or the train home, or organise a lift. You don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun over Christmas, but I think it’s all about being aware of how your actions can affect other people.
“I’m very lucky that I’m still here, but I could have potentially been leaving my children and not been here to enjoy a family Christmas.
“Now I’m trying to live my life with no limitations, be positive and do all the things that brought me joy before the accident.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service is also urging people to drive sober this Christmas, and all year round, or to find other ways of getting home safely if they’ve been drinking or taking drugs.
Sean Bone-Knell, Director Operations at Kent Fire and Rescue
Kent Fire and Rescue Service's Operations Director Sean Bone-Knell said: “Chloe’s story is a powerful one, but it's something she should never have had to go through.
“Drink drivers not only endanger themselves, but all other roads users as well, and as Chloe says – the pain and impact is felt by the whole family and wider network of friends when some is killed or injured in a road crash.
“So we’re pleading with anyone considering drinking and driving to stop, think and opt for alternative transport. Have fun this Christmas, but please don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.”
Become an ambassador for responsible motoring in Kent by making the Drive pledge today.