A young woman from Arizona cheated death after being internally decapitated in a car crash last September.
Rachel Bailey had sustained a rare, usually fatal injury, where her skull was torn from her spine in a car crash in Phoenix.
The car accident had happened on Cave Creek Road in September 2011, but thanks to firefighters not only did the 23-year-old survive, she was saved from paralysis, and is walking and talking after recovering from severe injuries which left her internally beheaded, AZ Family reported.
When a person is internally decapitated, their spine is detached from their skull, but their head is still held on by tissues and muscles. People who have been internally beheaded normally die or become paralyzed because their spinal cord has been severed.
The rare condition is usually caused by a severe head injury and doctors need to use metal plates, cages and bone grafts in surgery to reconnect the skull to the spine. However, the accident only erased some of her memory and she does not remember a five-week period around the time of the accident.
Bailey told 3TV her decapitation was "horribly impossible" because someone who is internally decapitated usually dies or becomes paralyzed for the rest of their life. She said that she was intent on overcoming her injuries and that she will not let the accident "beat" or "define" her.
On Monday night, she met and thanked the firemen who had saved her life. She told the group of men at Fire Station 7 that she could never thank them enough and that they were heroes, according to AZ Family.
"You're the unsung heroes," she told the firefighters. "I can't express enough gratitude." Baily had spent in month in John C. Lincoln Hospital's Intensive Care Unit after the accident that severed her skull from her spine.
Fire Captain Wayde Kline, who was at the crash scene in 2011, said that seeing Bailey was emotional.
"It's emotional to see her and see her doing so well," he said. "As firefighters, we often see patients at their worst. This reminds us the people we take care of are someone's son, daughter, mother or father," Kline said of their dinner with Rachel Bailey."