A woman who was trapped in an upturned car for six days after crashing into a ditch has told of her extraordinary struggle and how she focused her thoughts on staying alive.
It’s easy to forget that the human instinct to survive is an incredibly powerful force. This week a Belgian woman has given us a staggering reminder after surviving a car crash that left her trapped in an overturned car for six days during a blistering heatwave.
Corine Bastide’s story would seem far-fetched in a Hollywood movie. Her family reported the 45-year-old as a missing person when she failed to return home from a friend’s house on 23 July. In fact, she was less than 15 miles from her home, barely able to move after her car had crashed into a ditch.
Suffering a spinal injury from the impact of the crash, Bastide couldn’t reach her mobile phone. It rang endlessly during her first hours crushed into the car until the battery died. Then, Europe’s record-breaking heatwave kicked in and temperatures in Belgium reached 41.7C.
She described the heat as “terrifying” to Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
Despite her injuries, Bastide continued to try and move - to survive.
“The most difficult thing was lying on pieces of glass,” she said. “I tried to hoist myself up but I had the impression that my back was being torn.”
The mother-of-three eventually managed to open the car door with her foot. She used a chewing gum box to collect rainwater to drink and sucked on a wet stick to moisten her mouth.
While the rain allowed her to stay hydrated, she says it became more terrifying than the heat when she was sat soaked and shivering. She became scared of falling unconscious as she sat seeped in cold water.
After six days and six nights in her upturned Fiat Punto, it was a family friend putting up missing posters who heard her cries for help and spotted her car in a ditch near the eastern city of Liège.
“She told me she had been looking for me everywhere. She stayed with me all the time and that woman, I think she is my guardian angel.”
Bastide says her dogged determination to survive stemmed from thoughts of her children.
“I didn’t want them to think I had done something stupid, like kill myself. No, it was an accident.”
While Bastide must undergo surgery on her spine and has a long recovery ahead of her, overcoming such an extraordinary ordeal has already boosted her self-belief.
She told RTBF she realises now that she is “stronger than I thought” and is considering taking part in the Paris Marathon next year.
Main image: BBC Pictures