A Fermanagh woman who was left in a coma following a car crash in County Donegal that killed her two friends has said she is has been “given another chance at life.”

Rachel Elliott, who lives outside Irvinestown, suffered serious injuries to her brain, back and pelvis after she was thrown out the back window of a blue Peugeot 306 when it hit a wall in the seaside resort of Bundoran three weeks ago.

Shiva Devine (20) from Belleek and Conall McAleer (20) from Ederney, who were passengers in the car, died at the scene. Two others were seriously injured.

In an exclusive interview with The Impartial Reporter from her hospital bed in Dublin yesterday (Wednesday) Miss Elliott spoke about her ordeal for the first time, saying she is “still in a state of shock.”

“I am so lucky to be alive, I honestly am probably one of the luckiest people on this planet to be alive today after the car accident.

“I have only found out in the past few days that I lost two friends in it. It has been hard to try and hide the fact I have lost Shiva and Conall.

“I haven’t learned how to deal with that yet, I am still in shock, I don’t how to feel about it,” she said.

The 25-year-old was inconsolable when her mother Susan told her that her friends were dead.

“I had my suspicions during the week but I never thought they were dead, it was awful to find out. I was devastated, I cried my eyes out.

“Everybody has buried Shiva, buried Conall, but I haven’t got to say goodbye. I only have pictures of them, they are gone and not coming back, that is hard to deal with and the fact they are gone, and I have been given another chance at life.”

She described Mr. McAleer as “such a good cub” and Miss Devine as “the life and soul of the party who was always laughing and always telling jokes.”

“She was something else; the next time I am in Belleek I am going to have no Shiva and that’s when it will be hit me the most.

“I want her family and Conall’s family to know I will always think of them, I will always be there for them and I’ll help Shiva’s wee child or partner anyway I can,” she said.

When asked about the night of the crash, Miss Elliott said she doesn’t remember anything at all.

“I don’t remember going to Bundoran or being in that accident. I don’t remember the accident whatsoever. I’d like to know if I spoke to Shiva at the side of the road, or made any communication.”

After her family were told she was suffering from a brain stem injury and doctors could not guarantee that she would even survive the crash Miss Elliott has made significant progress in the past week. But she has a long journey ahead.

“I still can’t walk, they have taken out the stitches from my back. Hopefully I can get to Belfast soon and start my physio and start walking again.”

She believes the power of prayer and the support she has received from the community has helped her recovery.

“People are still sending me rosary beads,” she said.

“I do believe that without all that I wouldn’t have pulled through. I genuinely do believe it was the prayers that made me come through.”

And this week it was the moment her family never thought they would see: Miss Elliott reunited with her three-year-old son Ronnie weeks after she almost died.

“All I wanted was to be reunited with him and this week I got to do that. I loved it, I was scared about what way he would be when he saw me but never passed any remarks.

“He told me he loved me, he hugged me and that meant more to me than anything. I told him I loved him, I cried when I saw him,” she explained.

It was that love for her son that has given Miss Elliott’s the strength to persevere.

“Ronnie is my whole world, he’s my whole life. To be have pulled through for him has meant everything to me. He was the first person I thought about, he was on my mind all the time.”

And she has this message for him: “Ronnie, I will get better. I do love you. I want to get better because of you.”