A young couple say that being seriously injured by a car that smashed into them has “saved their relationship”.
Chloe Leer, 21, and her boyfriend Liam Padghan, 20, were sitting at a bus stop in Hastings, East Sussex, in the early hours of July 24 when disaster struck.
Chloe said a car came “screeching” around a tight bend, with the driver losing control of the vehicle and ploughing into the pavement, hitting and seriously injuring the pair.
The sweethearts had argued earlier in the evening and their one-year relationship was on the rocks.
But barista Chloe says the shared traumatic experience and the difficult recovery that followed made them stronger as a couple, leaving her believing she was “exactly where she was meant to be” that night.
Chloe said: “We were on the verge of breaking up for good. We had stopped to sit on a bus stop bench to roll a cigarette – we were there no longer than 10 minutes.
"I heard screeching and then saw the car come round the corner. It was drifting and then the back end wobbled so it ended up facing us.
"Liam got hit first so he was injured really badly. He was blown through the glass of the bus stop and I was thrown out the gap at the back.
"He was telling me how much he loves me and that he wants to marry me right before it happened.
"I feel like I was meant to be there with him because otherwise god knows what would've happened to him."
Following the carnage of the crash, the driver rushed to help retail worker Liam and called the police.
Police arrived at the scene and arrested the driver under suspicion of drink-driving and dangerous driving, but these were later dropped and he was instead charged with careless driving.
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Chloe said: "I saw Liam's leg and it was horrible – his kneecap looked like it was halfway off his leg and his thigh bone was completely broken and sticking out. He kept staring up into the sky and I thought he was going to die.”
An x-ray revealed that Liam had broken his left femur and he was rushed into emergency surgery to put a metal rod from his hip to his knee.
Luckily Chloe's wounds were superficial, so she was discharged at 6am, meanwhile Liam spent the next week in hospital recovering and was only able to walk again after four weeks of intense physiotherapy.
During Liam's difficult physical recovery Chloe says she took care of him and the pair bonded as they recovered from the traumatic experience together.
Chloe said: "I took care of him a lot while he was recovering and it's brought us a lot closer.
"We already knew how much we loved each other but it just put things in place – if the crash didn't happen, we probably wouldn't be together now."
Liam said: "I didn't see the car until it was too late and then the next thing I remember I was on the floor.
"The recovery was awful, but I was just glad we were both okay and had each other through it. Going through that together has brought us closer than ever and we couldn't be happier now."
A spokesperson for Sussex Police said: "While we have every sympathy for the victims in this case, the Crown Prosecution Service was unable to authorise charges for the two offences the suspect was arrested for.
"We can confirm that following enquiries including CCTV checks, there was no evidence that the standard of driving of the suspect fell far below that of a competent and careful driver, therefore he was not charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
"Analysis of a blood sample from the suspect identified alcohol in his system, however this was below the legal limit, therefore he was not charged with drink-driving.
"The suspect has been reported for summons to face a charge of careless driving."
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