A young woman who was the victim of a hit and run collision which left her fighting for her life the day before her 21st birthday said she is “lucky to be alive” as she looks forward to a brighter 2019.
Lauren Hodkinson is recovering from severe head injuries which left her needing to have part of her skull removed.
The brain injury also meant she had to learn to walk again.
She still suffers from memory lapses and is waiting to undergo further surgery in the new year.
But in an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Lauren has thanked everyone who helped her and told how she hopes to finally make a long-awaited trip to Paris with her partner of almost four years, Kieran Kennedy, who has been by her side on her road to recovery.
Lauren had been out for a run in Ryelands Park, and was crossing Morecambe Road near Our Lady’s Catholic College when she was struck by a van and left for dead in the road.
The collision, on August 21, happened the day before she turned 21.
Lauren was airlifted to the critical care unit at Royal Preston Hospital, where she remained for three weeks.
She was put into an induced coma for 10 days, during which time Kieran was constantly at her bedside, along with mum Carol and stepdad Steve, who stayed in hospital accommodation, and stepsister Sophie, 24.
Lauren’s head took the full force of the collision. She suffered a fractured skull which resulted in part of it being removed. Her jaw was also broken in two places, and a metal plate was inserted to hold it together.
Kieran was at work in Top Shop when he was informed of the accident. “The police turned up at work and said there had been an accident and they took me to the hospital in Preston,” the 22-year-old said.
“They sat me down and prepared me for the worst. We were in limbo for a couple of days – it was a toss of a coin whether Lauren came through.”
Lauren remained in a coma for around 10 days, while doctors waited for the pressure on her skull to reduce, before beginning a long road to recovery during which she had to learn to walk again.
She still suffers from short-term memory lapses, a symptom of the head injury which could improve over time.
Lauren is originally from Blackpool, and moved to Lancaster two years ago to join Kieran, who is studying philosophy, politics and economics at Lancaster University.
She works at Pandora – but has been unable to return to work since the accident.
She currently has to wear a protective plaster cast skull cap until she undergoes surgery next month to fit a metal plate into her head.
The titanium plate will be 3D printed to reshape her skull.
After the accident, friends raised £1,700 towards a dream trip to Paris for the couple, which they hope to take next year.
“I had been wanting to go to Paris and talked about it a lot at work and so they set up a JustGiving page towards it,” Lauren said.
“We are hoping to go once the plate has been fitted in my head in January.”
In the meantime, Lauren recently offered her services on Facebook as a dog walker to help pass some of her free time while she awaits her surgery next month.
“I am not allowed to go back to work until I have got my plate fitted but I am so bored,” she said.
“I have worked in retail since I was 16 so it’s really weird to not be working.
“I really love dogs and I am not doing anything so I just thought I would see if anyone needed any help.
“I have had a few responses and I’m walking a little Staffie at the moment.”
Now, four months on from the day which changed her life, Lauren acknowledges how lucky she has been.
“I am getting better,” she said.
“When I first came home I was sleeping all the time and couldn’t eat but I am a lot better now.
“I was a bit down for the first two to three weeks after I came out of hospital but I am fine now and happy to talk about it all.
“When I first came out I was a bit scared to go outside, but I can go and do things on my own. I am so lucky to be alive.” Lauren added her thanks to everyone who has helped during her recovery.
“Everyone has been great,” she said.
“It’s quite frustrating because I have got all these issues and I just don’t remember any of it.
“I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who supported me. There have also been a lot of nice comments from people on social media who I don’t even know.
“The hospital were amazing, and my family have been great too, especially Kieran.He is very protective of me now – he’ll be texting me when I go down the road to the shop to check I’m OK!”
* Mark Kelbie, 40, of Garforth Street, Oldham, was arrested following a police investigation and charged with causing serious injury through dangerous driving, dangerous driving, failing to stop, failing to report an accident and driving without insurance.
He is due to appear at Preston Crown Court on January 14.