THE family of a lollipop lady who was knocked down while on patrol in South Tyneside have spoken of her battle to overcome the injuries that almost claimed her life.
Eleanor Harman had to fight for her life after being hit by a car just yards from her home in Beach Road, South Shields, on February 2, 2011.
The 60-year-old has spent the last two years undergoing a string of operations and spent 11 months in a specialist unit after being knocked down by a 69-year-old woman on a school run.
Mrs Harman, who is married to Harry, 71, suffered post-traumatic amnesia and had life-saving surgery after the smash.
Her daughter Rebecca Reese, who has a twin sister named Sarah, a hairdresser, said it was heartbreaking to see her “loving, caring” mum so fragile.
The 26-year-old, a worker at Northern Rock Asset Management in Gosforth, Newcastle, said: “She was loving, she was caring and she would do anything for anyone.
“I don’t know why it happened, but that one day changed the rest of her life and ours.”
Miss Reese added: “It was so difficult when your mum doesn’t recognise you and she’s not talking properly and making sense.
“She would go shopping and support dad. She was the matriarch of the family and she was so fit. After the crash, she had severe memory loss and she couldn’t retain information.
“It was horrendous. Sometimes she would mix you up or she wouldn’t know who you were.”
When she was hit, Mrs Harman had been poised to guide a mum and her pram across the road.
The smash left her with a swollen brain and a condition known as raccoon eyes, which meant her face ballooned under the pressure.
As she began her recovery, medics transferred her to a specialist brain injuries unit at Walkergate Park, in Benfield Road, Newcastle, where she spent nearly a year.
Miss Reese said: “I’ve never spoken to the woman, but I’m of the opinion that if it had been a 25-year-old boy racer in a Subaru then he would have got a harder sentence.
“I know fine well she didn’t set out to hit a lollipop lady and it wasn’t intentional. That’s over and done and my mum is still here.”
She added: “I got a call and there was voicemail saying my mum had been knocked over. My sister rang and she was hysterical. It was all a bit of a blur, but we rushed into A&E.
“She was lying there and she didn’t look herself, but she looked like she might just have broken her arm. I didn’t realise it was such a serious head injury.
“She was talking gibberish and didn’t realise who we were.”
Now, just days after the two-year anniversary of the crash, she is back home with her family and continuing her rehabilitation.
Harry, 71, a retired industrial chemist who now owns a guesthouse in South Shields, said: “Eleanor and I continue to live with the consequences of the incident every day, as her injuries mean she is simply unable to have the same independence she enjoyed.
“She continues to suffer from cognitive problems, memory loss and disorientation two years on from the crash and needs regular care and support to help her get the best from life.”