A hospital worker seriously injured in a smash involving a drunk driver is learning to walk again - so she can make it down the aisle for her dream Caribbean wedding.
Melania Tackie-Abia, 29, was returning from a birthday dinner in her Vauxhall Corsa when she was hit head-on by a Mercedes driving on the wrong side of Leyton Road, Stratford.
The impact catapulted her car into a back garden, trapping Ms Tackie-Abia in the smoke-filled wreckage at 1.45am on June 26, 2016.
Fortunately, two mechanics working late nearby pulled her clear as she screamed her stomach and legs were “on fire”.
A crowd then gathered and began shouting abuse at the 26-year-old driver who staggered from the silver E-Class.
He had earlier been seen on CCTV leaving a club with a bottle of vodka, which he smashed on the ground before getting into his vehicle.
Ms Tackie-Abia, who sobbed down the phone to her mother thinking she would die, was taken to hospital with a perforated bowel and leg fractures.
She underwent 12 hours of surgery before being admitted to intensive care.
Ms Tackie-Abia spent two months in hospital, her recovery took another year and she suffered panic attacks.
In April, Irwin Mitchell’s serious injury legal team secured a settlement which will ensure she has access to the specialist rehabilitation and therapies required to support her as she learns to walk again.
Almost five years on, Ms Tackie-Abia, who lives with her partner Vernon, 26, and 18-month-old daughter Melaysia, has returned to her administration role at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
She told the Standard: “I’m getting better but I am definitely not where I was. It has affected me physically, mentally and emotionally.
“Vernon has proposed to me. I still have constant pain in my legs but I am determined to walk down the aisle.
“The pandemic has spoilt our plans to marry in St Lucia, where Vernon and my mother are from.
“With the settlement, I can now get a personal trainer to strengthen my legs.”
She added: “I’m just trying to focus on family life with Melaysia. I want to run and go on bike rides with my daughter. We are also looking to buy a house.
“I couldn’t have made it through all of this without my mum - she was my rock.”
Ms Tackie-Abia hit out at the “selfish” drink-driver for “destroying her life”, saying: “Despite all the warnings, they don’t think about endangering others.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve had one drink, it’s not worth getting behind the wheel.”
Solicitor Stephanie Pelling, who represented Ms Tackie-Abia, said: “Melania has been through a horrible ordeal and is still struggling with the impact the crash has had on her day-to-day life.
“Through our work we come across many people living with the long-term effects of crashes and while we can’t change what’s happened to Melania, we’re pleased to have helped secure a future for her and her family by paving the way for the care and treatment she requires.
“We would also urge road users to be vigilant at all times to prevent others from going through what Melania has.”
The Metropolitan Police said the motorist was arrested for drink-driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
In February 2017, he was jailed for 26 months and disqualified from driving for five years.
Scotland Yard said: “As this case tragically demonstrates, anyone who drives a vehicle when they are over the prescribed limit of drink or drugs is not only breaking the law but posing an unacceptable risk to themselves, their passengers and other road users.
“The message is simple. Do not drink and drive, and please challenge anyone who does.”