Ruth Thomas was nearly home from her university placement when she was involved in a horrific collision that left her with a brain injury.

The 20-year-old was driving on the A5092, near her home in Grizebeck, when her car collided with a van on 12 July 2018. Among other injuries, she had sustained a brain injury and had to be placed in a medically-induced coma by our paramedic and doctor team.

The incident

Ruth, who is a zoology student at the University Cumbria, was driving from her placement at Rusland Horizons in Haverthwaite. She was nearly back home in Grizebeck when her car was involved in a collision with a van.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service’s (GNAAS) paramedic and doctor team were called to the scene and assessed Miss Thomas’ injuries before placing her in an induced coma and flying her to the Royal Preston Hospital.

The aftermath

Ruth, who’s originally from Shropshire, sustained eight pelvic and lower vertebrae fractures and suffered a traumatic brain injury known as a diffuse axonal injury.

She remained in a coma for nearly three weeks and spent eight weeks in total at the Royal Preston Hospital before being transferred closer to home to Haywood Community Hospital, in Stoke-on-Trent where she stayed for four weeks.

“The prognosis on the night of the collision was that it wasn’t known if she would survive the night. We’ve gone from saying goodbye to our daughter to we’ve got our daughter back. She’s about 80% on the way back to recovery,” said Ruth’s dad, Lee Thomas.

The recovery

“The doctor in the hospital said the pre-hospital care was done so well that they didn’t need to operate on Ruth’s pelvis, so we value the care she received by GNAAS as it’s given her a better outcome,” said Lee. “Her memory is still an issue and her speech is an issue, but her mobility is fine, all things considered, you would hardly notice.”

The Thomas family recently visited the GNAAS base at Langwathby and met pilot Owen McTeggart, paramedic Sarah Graham and Dr Theo Weston who came to Miss Thomas’ aid on the night of the collision.

Ruth, who has no memory of the incident, said: “It’s cool meeting Theo and Sarah. It’s quite funny because I can’t remember them. I can’t remember the crash or the air ambulance.”


Since Ruth’s incident, the family have urged people to donate to GNAAS. Lee, who is a well-known Twitter user called @ConstableChaos, has used his social media profile to continuously promote the charity and encourage donations.

As a result, thousands of pounds have been raised for GNAAS.

“We’ll never be able to thank GNAAS enough. We’ve raised £3,000 through social media, my work, my wife’s work, it’s just a small drop in the ocean. Ruth is testament, if it wasn’t for the air ambulance she wouldn’t be here, “ said Lee.

Ruth's story

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