Car passenger thanks life-saving air ambulance crew after horror smash near Washington

A car passenger has raised hundreds of pounds to thank the emergency service which saved her life after an horrific car crash.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 10:45 am

Rebecca Dunn, 21, from South Shields, was a passenger in her friend’s car when it collided with a truck on the A194(M) near Washington in February last year.

Police, fire and ambulance services were called to the scene and the road was closed in both directions to allow the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) to land on the carriageway.

Rebecca had to be cut out of the car and was assessed and treated by both GNAAS and the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) before being airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle in just five minutes.

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“I was on my way from the Metrocentre to my nail and spray tan appointment with my friend the day of the accident,” he said.

"It was a Wednesday and we were planning a night out in Durham, however the incident occurred, which thankfully I don’t remember.

“I woke up Saturday morning and thought it had all been a dream.”

Rebecca had sustained 12 broken ribs, torn all the ligaments in her right shoulder, had a punctured liver, a deflated lung, a bleed on the brain, whiplash, concussion as well as internal bleeding and blood clots.

Rebecca recovering in hospital and just two weeks after being released

She received a blood transfusion, nerve blockers, blood thinners and underwent several scans and x- rays.

Thankfully, her friend was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead by road and only required stitches and a check over.

“I can’t remember seeing any of the air ambulance team or being in the helicopter which is a blessing really as I can imagine it being a traumatic memory,” said Rebecca.

“However, I do know the air ambulance team helped save my life and for that I owe them so much.”

What was left of the car

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Rebecca spent ten days in hospital and is still dealing with the physical and mental fallout of the crash: “Although I’m mainly healed now, I still have a few injuries which need fixing,” she said

“Mentally, the incident caused a lot of pain. I struggled doing anything by myself for months as I was too scared and too anxious to leave the house alone in case anything happened to me.

“Additionally, a year later, I won’t get into the back of any car because doctors said if I was in the back of the car the day of incident, it would’ve been fatal.”

Rebecca's leg was severely swollen

Since the incident she decided to challenge herself to climb the equivalent height of the Old Man of Coniston on a treadmill, and raised more than £1,200 for GNAAS.

“I think GNAAS are amazing, I owe so much to them. To be able to get into a helicopter and save people’s lives, I find it absolutely extraordinary,” she said.

“If it wasn’t for the air ambulance it may have been a very different and unfortunate outcome for me and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

GNAAS is dependent on donations to survive and has launched a raffle with a top prize of £10,000 to help it meet rising demand for its services. Tickets cost £1 each and are available now at

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Rebecca as she is now and with boyfriend Aaron Dove

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Rebecca's leg was left severely swollen