A mother who was warned her daughter might not survive the horrific injuries she received in a car crash 11 weeks ago said she felt blessed that the five-year-old was now on the road to recovery.
Little Darcy Cook has amazed everyone with the progress she has made since the accident on August 4 in Bury St Edmunds when the BMW car being driven by her father, Matthew, in which she was a passenger, was in collision with a lorry in Parkway.
Both sustained life-threatening head injuries and had to be cut from the wreckage before being airlifted to hospital where Mr Cook, 38, is still being treated and remains in a serious condition.
Darcy suffered severe head injuries, a fractured pelvis and a broken femur. She now has a steel plate in her head and had to have reconstructive surgery to one side of her face. Because of the injury to her brain, she has had to learn to walk, talk and eat again but she has made tremendous progress.
Darcy’s parents are separated and her mum Steph, 31, who lives on Studlands Park, said she was at home when she first got news of the crash. “I was just pottering about when there was a knock at the door,” said Steph.
“As I went to open it I could see the silhouette of a policeman. He asked me if I had anyone with me and said I should sit down. I just blurted out ‘where’s my baby?’ He said Darcy and Matthew were being airlifted to hospital. He drove me to Addenbrooke’s. I phoned my mum who had just parked her car in the Jockey Club and we picked her up on the way.
“When we got to the hospital I found out that Darcy had had to be resuscitated at the scene of the crash. When I saw my little girl she was black and blue and I could see she had a terrible injury to her head.
One of the nurses said to me you need to go and kiss Darcy before she goes into theatre and then it dawned on me that she might not make it through the surgery. She just looked at me and I just felt helpless, the whole situation was out of my hands.”
Darcy spent two weeks in intensive care before undergoing brain surgery and returned to the unit before being moved into the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) an eight-bed ward caring for very sick children.
Steph together with Darcy’s grandparents, Martyn and Ann Heyes, were by her side throughout. “We stayed in family accommodation at Acorn House provided by the Sick Children’s Trust (SCT), which was absolutely marvellous to the whole family,” said Steph. On Friday the two Red Lodge pre-schools, the Little Robins, where Darcy’s aunt, Leanne Dudgeon works, and the Red Robins held pyjama parties and have so far raised more than £500 for the SCT with the Red Robins also holding a cake stall for East Anglian Air Ambulance.
Darcy and her mum were the special guests at the Little Robins party. “It’s a way of thanking the trust for the very special support it gave us because without it I would not have been able to stay with Darcy when she was in hospital,” said Steph. “So many people have been so fantastic through all this. People cooked us meals, brought Darcy gifts and I will never forget the nurses who were with her watching all the time,
“I will be taking Darcy back to see them and we are also hoping to meet the air ambulance crew and the paramedics who saved her life and got her and her dad to hospital.”
Although separated Steph and her husband, who had only recently been promoted to head chef at Newmarket’s Kings restaurant, had remained close through their daughter. “Matthew is still very poorly but we talk to him and always reassure him that Darcy is safe and well,” said Steph.
Darcy is now undergoing intensive physio and speech therapy at the Sunflowers specialist unit in Cottenham and will gradually progress back into Newmarket’s All Saints primary school where she was a pupil before the accident.
“We have been going in to school and she had been doing little bits and everyone there has been fantastic,” said Steph.
“There is still a long way to go but she has made such progress since I first saw her lying in hospital and after her surgery we did not know what the future would hold for her but she is amazing and every day is another milestone I am just so lucky to have her here with me today.”