A DISABLED woman who was knocked over twice said she believes she would have died had it not been for the metal frame of her wheelchair.

Tracey Pritchard-Atherton, who suffers from Spina Bifida, said she was crossing the road to for her regular visit to St Catherine's Community Centre, in South Street, Crook, when she was hit by a van that "came out of nowhere" at about 10am, on January 31.

The 52-year-old was thrown out of her wheelchair by the force of the collision but said she was shocked when the van then reversed and hit her a second time.

Onlookers rushed to Mrs Pritchard-Atherton's aid, including carer Anthony House, who is employed by the company who provide care to Mrs Pritchard-Atheron and her disabled husband Arthur, 48.

The Northern Echo:

She said: "I was crossing the road to go to St Catherine's Community Centre and there was not a thing in sight and this van just came down out of nowhere, hit me and then reversed back and pulled forward and hit me again. There were so many people around at the time and they were all shouting at him."

Mrs Pritchard-Atheron was taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital where she was treated for two broken ribs and a broken leg. She is now recovering and is bedbound at home and praised Mr House in particular.

She said: "I want to say thank you to Tony, he was brilliant."

Mrs Pritchard-Atheron said she was still in shock following the incident but hoped to have her chair back soon.

"Really, the chair saved me more than anything because it fell on top of me so it took most of the impact," she said.

A spokeswoman on behalf of Dale Care said: "This is so lovely to hear about one of our carers. When I rang Anthony to say well done he just said "but it’s what I do, I look after and care for people". We have a fantastic team who we are very proud of as they often do go above and beyond what is expected of them and this just goes to show that."

The Northern Echo:

A Durham Constabulary spokeswoman said: “We were called at 10.05am on Thursday, January 31 to a collision between a Mercedes Vito van and a pedestrian on South Street, Crook. The pedestrian, who is a wheelchair user, suffered a number of injuries in the collision. She was taken to hospital for treatment but has since been discharged. An investigation into the collision is ongoing.”