Last photo before buggy ‘ripped off’ arm
WARNING: Graphic Content
A TOURIST was left fighting for her life after a dirt buggy ripped her arm off as it flipped during a crash in Mexico.
British woman Chelsea Vella, 26, said she was forced to carry her own limb to an ambulance after it was "sliced" in half during the excursion near Puerto Vallarta.
The prison officer had been riding the dirt buggy with a friend when she said they lost control on a wet surface, flipping the vehicle.
"There had been a hurricane and the floor was slippery, I just remember feeling the car tip," Ms Vella, from Buckinghamshire, told The Sun.
"My instinct told me to put my hand out to stop myself from hitting my head, but the vehicle landed on my arm and the force ripped it off.
"I remember looking down and my elbow was snapped the other way and my right arm was hanging on by a chunk of skin.
"At first I had an adrenaline rush and the pain wasn't that bad. Then I realised that my arm was literally hanging off, I could see inside it.
"Once the pain hit me, I just became hysterical. All I kept thinking was, 'I'm going to lose my arm'."
When in the ambulance, Ms Vella's friend ripped her own T-shirt to tourniquet her arm - a move that doctors said saved her life.
"On the way to hospital, I could feel myself dying. It was a really weird feeling and then the ambulance staff gave me a shot of something and I woke back up," Ms Vella said.
"When we arrived at the hospital, the doctor said that whoever tourniquet my arm saved my life. I would have bled to death before we got there otherwise.
"I don't remember anything other than that. The next thing I knew I was waking up from surgery and my arm had been removed.
"The doctor had to sedate me because I was hysterical."
Speaking to The Sun, Ms Vella's sister, Georgia Vella, 22, recalled the moment the family were informed Chelsea had been in a serious accident.
"My mum was asleep and I heard her phone go off. Suddenly, it rang again and it was the British Foreign Office. They just said, 'Chelsea has been in an accident and is in critical condition'. We all thought she was dead," Georgia said.
"We just sat crying and waiting for an update, then they called back 30 minutes later and said doctors had had to amputate my sister's arm.
"I was crying my eyes out, Mum was too. Chelsea is only 26, her life was just coming together and now she has to learn to write, drive and everything else again.
"We were told Chelsea had died on the operating table for a little while. Doctors tried to save her arm but she was missing parts of her bone and there were so many complications with blood loss that they ended up saying the only way to save her was to take the arm off.
"We were on the phone to her as she came round. She just kept saying, 'My arm has gone' to my mum.
"She told us she had to literally carry her right arm to the ambulance using her left."
After the accident, Chelsea said she had been on an "emotional rollercoaster", with some days "ending good and others ending badly".
Her family has since launched a GoFundMe page in a bid to fund a prosthetic arm for the young woman so she can get back to normal.
They are also having to work out how to pay for her medical bills, as Chelsea's insurer refused the claim.
"It has only been a couple of weeks but it has been hard. Even things like walking into a restaurant, I feel like everyone is staring," Chelsea said.
"I am back home in the UK now and concentrating on getting my strength back.
"I am right-handed so I need to learn everything again."
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission