Canterbury mum ‘lucky to be alive’ after horror crash left her fighting for life

A mum who was left fighting for her life following a horror crash is learning to walk again – as her baby boy takes his first steps.

Rowena Owen, from Canterbury, suffered two broken legs, a perforated bowel and an embolism after a head-on collision with another car along the A2070 near Brenzett, Romney Marsh


The aftermath of the crash in August, which led to Rowena having to be airlifted to hospital

The business owner says she and the other driver were travelling at about 60mph in the moments prior to the high-speed crash.

Firefighters took 55 minutes to cut through the 40-year-old’s wrecked Audi A6, before she was airlifted to King’s College Hospital in London for urgent treatment.

“We were both doing about 60mph – it’s a national speed limit road,” Ms Owen said.

“I was told later that I was awake after the accident and had phoned 999 myself, which I found quite haunting because I can’t remember it at all.

“I would have lost my left leg if they couldn’t get me to King’s quickly enough.”

The businesswoman, who runs Canterbury firm Bloom Stays, had been travelling from Rye to Barham prior to the August 20 crash.

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When she regained consciousness eight hours later, she was told that she was set to have surgery the next day.

Her injuries also included a broken foot and a deep laceration on one of her arms.

The mum-of-one has no recollection of the crash, but experienced a number of “disturbing” flashbacks while in hospital.

“I discovered while I was in hospital that there were fire engines, ambulances, a helicopter and 30 people on the site – and I had no memory of it,” she said.

“I had very weird flashbacks. For two days in hospital, I didn’t know what was and wasn’t reality – every time I blinked, I could see a beautiful field and sunshine.

“It wasn’t until I went back to the crash site that I realised that what I had seen was what had happened when I was being put into the helicopter. It’s not a real memory – it’s all broken up. I found that disturbing.”

Ms Owen had four operations, including one to mend an open fracture on her left leg and an emergency procedure on her perforated bowel.

She remained in hospital for six weeks, before finally being discharged and allowed to return home to her partner Charlie, 42, and one-year-old son Harvey at the beginning of October.

At the time, the mum could only put weight on one of her legs, and to help her doctors sent her home with a gutter frame, which she could only manage seven steps with.

But since arriving back in Canterbury, she has steadily improved and mimicked her young son as he learns to walk.

“When I came back home, I joked to my partner Charlie ‘who’s going to walk first, me or Harvey?’” Ms Owen added.

“Harvey’s been a bit late walking and I walk around like him, by grabbing onto the furniture.

“I even watched how he got up off the floor, and mimicked it because the first thing I had to learn was how to get down to the floor and up again in a different way.”

The mum-of-one now uses one crutch to walk with, and is able to pace short distances unaided.

But she says it will “take a little while longer” for her to regain enough mobility to be able to care for Harvey by herself.

Medics have told Ms Owen that, with good rehab and physiotherapy, she should regain 75% of the function in her legs over the next two years.

Acknowledging that she is lucky to be alive, she hopes to be able to raise awareness of the work of the air ambulance service and to also help it in its fundraising endeavours.

“I am walking now, and at the time after the crash I wouldn’t have believed that I’d be there,” Ms Owen continued.

“I also wanted to talk about my experience more for other people who have been through car crashes as it’s difficult to find stories that aren’t just about the doom and gloom of it.”

The woman in the other car involved in the crash was rushed from the scene to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, where she was originally placed in intensive care.

A police spokesman said: “We are continuing to investigate a two-vehicle collision on the A2070 near Brenzett on 20 August.

“Officers attended shortly after 2.15pm and two women were taken to hospital with serious injuries. Both have since been discharged.

“As part of the investigation, one of the drivers involved has been interviewed and enquiries are ongoing.”