An NHS nurse’s “body was broken” after a drunk driver careered headlong into the car she was in.
Lucia Alvarez, 31, and her partner Bogdan Chiusdea were out on a day trip during a visit to his parents in Romania when a motorist overtook five cars and crashed into their family car.
Lucia, Bogdan and his parents were left with serious injuries with his father having to be airlifted to hospital with internal bleeding.
As well as a broken back, Lucia also broke her collar bone, sternum and several ribs.
She had to have surgery on her back and a perforated bowel in two separate operations.
Yet despite being over the alcohol limit necessary for a prison sentence in Romania, and being three times over the British drink drive limit, the driver was not arrested.
More than two years on he is still on the run.
The couple are now taking legal action against the driver’s insurance company through London law firm Osbornes Law.
Lucia, who is a theatre nurse at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, said she will never forget the horror of the crash.
She said: “I was almost killed and I’m lucky to be alive.
“My body was broken in the crash and I still have nightmares about what happened and every time I go in a car it all comes back to me.
“I will never forget the sound of the crash as it was so loud and like an explosion.
“My mother-in-law was crying and I was in so much pain.
“I now have pain all the time and will have to live with this for the rest of my life.”
Lucia and Bogdan, who live in Cambridge, were visiting Bogdan’s family in Sibiu, central Romania, and were planning to drive across Europe to Spain.
The couple were due to leave for their road trip that day but went to a swimming pool with Bogdan’s parents for the morning.
They were on their way back home when the crash happened.
Bogdan, 32, an HGV driver, said: “We were driving back when I saw a car ahead overtaking five others and he was on our side of the road.
“I pulled as far over as I could and was almost in the ditch at the side of the road, but he crashed straight into us.
“It felt like he was driving at us on purpose and trying to hit us.
“I couldn’t understand why he would have done this and then the next moment it was like hell on earth.”
Bogdan said he was “the luckiest” as he escaped the crash with only a broken foot.
“My father was telling us not to move him as he was badly injured, and a helicopter came to airlift him to hospital,” he continued.
“My girlfriend and mum were crying and while I was trying to help everybody, I didn’t know what to do and felt very powerless.
“I was very scared that I was going to lose my family. It was the worst moment of my life.”
Lucia and Bogdan were transferred to Brasov Hospital, before Lucia was moved on to Clujnapoca Hospital for surgery on her back.
Bogdan’s father had suffered internal bleeding, but medics managed to stop it in time and saved his life.
Bogdan, who has lived in the UK for five years, added: “The police didn’t even tell the driver that he wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital.
“He didn’t need to run away from the police, he literally walked away.
“It makes me really angry as my whole family almost died and he walks away free.
“What’s stopping him from doing that again?”
Lucia is also angry that the driver was able to get away.
She said: “It’s like a bad joke that they just let him go. We are law abiding citizens who have tried to do the right thing and then somebody came along and broke our lives, yet they walk free.”
Magdalena Knez, a specialist personal injury lawyer from Osbornes Law, said he was now working to “secure some semblance of justice by taking legal action in the civil courts”.
“My clients are understandably angry that they have not received any justice for the trauma they have been through at the hands of a drunk driver,” he said.
“Their lives have been deeply affected by the incident and will never be the same again.”