When she looks at dilapidated photos of her car, Kylie Benson still can’t believe she survived it.
The 16-year-old was driving to see her grandmother when she collided with a speeding truck that pulled her vehicle down the road, eventually causing it to explode into a fireball.
As the seat belt melted across her body, Kylie’s survival instincts kicked in and she crawled out of the smashed driver’s window, before rolling across the grass to put out the fire licking her body.
It’s been a long road to recovery, with the teenager needing 19 operations to help her recover from 75% of third-degree burns. She also lost most of her right hand and had to relearn how to walk, talk, eat and write.
Kylie, 18, from Paris, Texas, hopes to become a burn consultant and is sharing her inspirational story to help other survivors like her.
It was a cold, wet, foggy October day in 2019 when Kylie got in her car for the 30-mile trip from her home in Valliant, Oklahoma to Jan Beene’s home in Spencerville.
Kylie doesn’t worry about road conditions, having driven there many times.
Kylie said: “I was homeschooled at the time and I was looking forward to seeing my lovely grandmother.
“Besides being a full-time student, I am also a photographer and I plan to show her some of my photos.”
Kylie was having a good time until she drove up the hill – at which point her life changed forever.
Due to the fog, Kylie didn’t see the four-way stop sign until late at night, at which point she slammed on the brakes. As she did, a large truck sped towards her moving at 85mph.
The driver didn’t see Kylie and drove past her, shoving her car under its center.
Kylie recalls: “I was screaming, ‘I don’t want to die like this!’ The truck stopped and rolled to the left, causing my car to shoot from under the truck to the other side of the road and catch fire.
“It was kind of weird because I was pretty calm sitting there with my seat belt melting all over my body. I think it must have been a shock.
“I tried to unbuckle my seat belt and it gave way, so I crawled out of the driver’s window that was smashed because the door was crushed, and I walked away in the fire.
“It sounds crazy, but I’m not even sure I was aware I was on fire.”
It sounds crazy, but I’m not even sure I was aware I was on fire
Seconds after she stepped out of her burned, battered car, a woman pulled over to the side of the road.
Terrified to see Kylie on fire, she told her to roll on the grass to put out the fire.
As she did, Kylie lost consciousness, and when she awoke, she was surrounded by firefighters and paramedics.
She recalls: “I heard a firefighter say, ‘It’s going to explode,’ and a split second later my car exploded – I could feel the vibrations from the explosion through the ground. and in the air.
“I was lucky not to be in it, because I could have died. To this day I still don’t know how I got out of that burning car. My guardian angel was working overtime that day! ”
20% chance of survival
Kylie was taken to the burn hospital for specialist treatment.
She was in such a state, barely alive when the doctors peeled off what was left of her clothes.
Her mother Alesha walks into the room crying and Kylie asks if she has to “go see Trista” – her best friend, who sadly took her own life four months earlier.
Kylie said: ‘Mom didn’t say anything, but I know it’s serious.
“The doctors told my family if I made it through that night I had a 20 per cent chance of survival. The odds were definitely not in my favor.
Every rib in my body was broken, my lung collapsed and my spine was broken in three places…that’s induction and will I survive
“I was in a coma for two weeks to help my body start to recover.
“Every rib in my body was broken, my lung collapsed and my spine was broken in three places.
“I had third degree burns over 75% of my body from forehead to knee.
“It was touching and going through days not knowing if I would survive but every day somehow, I got a little better than the day before.”
When Kylie woke up, bandaged from head to toe, her stepfather John, her best friend and supporter, was sitting beside her.
She recalls: “All I said was ‘Dad please don’t leave me again,’ and he smiled in relief.”
Since then, Kylie says life is “absolute hell”.
Every two days, she was taken to a room called The Tank, where her bandages were removed and her skin scrubbed.
She said: “I was still in excruciating pain even though they gave me painkillers. I just lay there and took it as pure torture.
“My doctors started doing more skin grafts. On the night of the accident, they took skin from my knee and left side to start the slow-down process. I have never felt pain like it and pray I never will.”
Kylie was released from the hospital after three months – but a week before that, doctors were forced to amputate the fingers on her right hand from the knuckles down because they became infected.
I just had to lie there and suffer it, it was pure torture… I’ve never felt pain like that.
It was another cruel blow to the brave teenager, but she was determined to recover.
After returning home, she had to learn to walk, write and eat again.
“It was like being reborn,” Kylie recalls. “Throughout it all, however, I have always kept the faith that this all happens for a reason and that it gives me a sense of peace, even on the really tough days when I’m down. or painful.
“One of the hardest things was dealing with my scars. For a long time, I refused to look at myself in the mirror.
“I felt ugly, like no one wanted me. But gradually, after 19 surgeries, I also found peace with that.
“I have accepted that I am a different person now and that person is the person I want to be. I think my best friend Trista was my guardian angel that day and she saved me to help others.”
After 19 surgeries, Kylie is attending the University of Phoenix and she hopes to eventually become a burn counselor because she knows right away she can make a big difference.
“People always ask me how I can love my life the way I still do after everything I’ve been through.
“I told them I thought of all the people who had it worse than me and they inspired me to get up every day.
“What a miracle I’m alive! I’m incredibly lucky and I hope my story inspires others to fight for the life they want.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/4534337/kylie-benson-burns-car-crash-lorry/ I lost 75% of the cowhide out of my burning car