On Sept. 18, as the remnants of Hurricane Isabel blew through Raleigh, Clare Holt was driving home when two falling oak trees stopped her in her tracks.
"I remember screaming, screaming for someone to call my husband, screaming his cell phone number," she said.
Then Holt blacked out.
"I woke up to sirens and chain saws and people coming to my aid," she said.
Holt was trapped inside the wreckage. She fractured a vertebrae and suffered other spinal injuries. She was nearly paralyzed.
"How did I survive? I get real choked up when I think about it," she said. "When I look at the still pictures of the crushed car, I wonder how anybody could have survived something like that."
"I think the injuries could have gone either way," sad Dr. Robert Allen.
After spending almost a month at WakeMed, Holt's days are now filled with therapy.
"I did have to start learning how to walk all over again after the surgery. Little things have become big challenges for me," she said.
Holt is getting better, and in time, doctors think she will make a full recovery.
"I wouldn't be surprised if she is completely unscathed in a year and you would never know she had this injury," Allen said.
For that, Holt thanks those who worked through the rain, tree limbs, and mangled metal to save her life.
"The true heroes are the fire and rescue squad," she said. "I know that I've been blessed."
Holt said her seat ended up in a reclined position and was the only part of the car that was not crushed.
A professional tree trimmer stopped and guided emergency workers as they cut back the trees off her. Holt said she still has no idea who that person was.
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