A MAN who survived a fatal car crash that killed a friend who was "like a sister" has said her death "does not seem real".

Chris Walton was a passenger in the Mercedes C Class, which hit a tree on the A167 in Darlington in the early hours of Friday, June 17.

The 22-year-old was taken to James Cook University Hospital with serious injuries, including a broken leg.

Tragically, Natalie Marshall, 25, who was driving, died from her injuries.

The Northern Echo: Natalie Marshall Natalie Marshall

On Friday evening, loved ones are releasing balloons in her memory at the skate park in her home village of St Helen Auckland.

Read more: Balloon release in memory of Natalie Marshall 

Chris, who is unable to make the event as he is still in hospital, has paid his own tribute the woman who is "like a sister" to him.

He said: “I have known Natalie a long time. We got on well. We used to be up all night and would text each other.

“We would sit and talk all night. No matter what we said to each other we did not look at each other any different.

“She was like a sister. We used to call each other brother and sister.”

The pair had been in Middlesbrough visiting friends and were on their way home when accident happened shortly after 3am.

The Northern Echo: Chris Walton Chris Walton

Chris, from West Auckland, does not remember anything about the collision and woke up in hospital.

His treatment has included stitches to his head, plastic surgery to his lip and metal pins and plates in his right leg.

He also injured his hand and has bruising to his lung.

Doctors are unable to say when he can go home, and he will have to learn to walk again first.

Chris said: “I cannot explain how I feel. It is hard being sat here because you are just thinking about what your body is feeling.

“I have not been outside for seven days.

“What has happened does not feel real.”

Natalie, a mobile phone sales advisor in Bishop Auckland, was popular with wide circle of friends.

She was well-known in the area and her sudden death has stunned the community, devastating those close to her.

The Northern Echo: Natalie, centre, with Shannon, left, and Corrina-MaeNatalie, centre, with Shannon, left, and Corrina-Mae

She had recently become the legal guardian to her younger sisters, Corrina-Mae, 17, and 14-year-old Shannon.

Read more: Fundraiser to help Natalie's teenage sisters

They are now being looked after by their older sister, Chloe, 28, and close family friends Shannon Murray, 25, from Crook, who has started an online fundraiser.

So far well-wishers have donated almost £4,000 to help them.

To donate, click here.


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