Crushed by a giant tree: How did she survive this?

Leanne Zimmer with her husband Matt and their boys Cove and Jack.
Leanne Zimmer with her husband Matt and their boys Cove and Jack. Trevor Veale

DIVINE intervention is what Leanne Zimmer believes saved her life when a large gum tree fell onto the roof of her car. 

"I'm just so lucky and grateful I am alive," the mother-of-two said.

"It could have been 30 seconds either way, I would have been dead.

"It's a miracle I reckon. Divine intervention."

Sitting in her hospital bed surrounded by flowers, Leanne recalled the terrifying night of the east coast low two weeks ago.

The kids had been fed and were winding down for bed, Leanne's husband Matt was at squad training at the pool. It was a fairly typical Wednesday night for the Zimmer family.

What was meant to be a quick trip to the shops to pick up some spanish onions for the couple's dinner soon turned into a near-death experience.

"The next thing you know I was knocked down with a massive bang.

"I noticed that there were branches hanging in front of my face, the windscreen was completely shattered, the whole dash and steering wheel were crushed down on top of my legs.

"I thought I needed to scream for help here, no one was going to find me otherwise."

Leanne endured excruciating pain as emergency services worked for more than two hours to cut her from the crushed car.

"When they finally ended up cutting it up, the steering wheel was in the shape of my leg, that's where my femur was snapped," she said.

Initially it was feared Leanne's two children, Jack and Cove, were in the back seat.

"I was later informed by the man who came down and helped me, the first man on the scene, that I actually kept saying and repeating to myself, 'Are my kids okay?'," she said.

The man later told her he feared the worst for her children - he was unable to hear any cries or screams from the flattened back seat.

As Leanne came to, she told emergency services she had, luckily, left her children at home.

"That's the best decision I've ever made in my life was leaving them at home (that night)."

The accident came as a shock to Matt, who had received several missed calls and messages from emergency services after squad training.

As reports of the story came to light, a groundswell of community support for the family followed.

Matt thanked everybody involved in Leanne's recovery, from the emergency services on the scene to friends bringing over meals for the kids, to the hospital staff.

"We've been completely overwhelmed with the community support," Matt said.

Since the accident, Leanne's mum Linda has travelled from Orange to help care for her and the family.

Being bed-bound is increasingly frustrating for Leanne, a Qantas air hostess, who is always on her feet.

"I'm normally up and out of the house and at the gym before 9am in the morning."

As she begins rehabilitation, Leanne is working through the ups and downs.

"It's going to be a very long road to recovery they've told me, but we'll get there," she said.

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