Bronwen Jones often dies in her nightmares.

She's trapped, upside down in her crumpled car, unable to move as the hours tick by.

Anyone would think it's something out of a movie, but it's simply the Taumarunui woman reliving her near-death experience when she crashed and rolled her car on State Highway 4 on July 30 last year.

Countless cars drove by while she lay trapped in her car for 11 hours as temperatures plummeted to -6C.

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It wasn't until the following morning that she was rescued by a group of local builders who spied her overturned car in a ditch.

She suffered dislocated elbows and a fractured sternum and ribs. After being discharged she also learned she'd suffered a punctured lung and had to be airlifted back to Waikato Hospital from her Ruapehu district home.

"My lung started deflating and there was a lot of fluid in my chest and that just kept getting worse ... I was in the pain that I was in because I had fractures and my breathing went downhill from there."

Medical staff eventually drained 4L of fluid out of her chest over two days before performing surgery to insert a chest drain.

All up, Jones spent 16 days in hospital.

Bronwen Jones, pictured in her Waikato Hospital bed two days after her crash, was covered in bruises after her ordeal. Photo/Belinda Feek
Bronwen Jones, pictured in her Waikato Hospital bed two days after her crash, was covered in bruises after her ordeal. Photo/Belinda Feek

Once discharged, she began her rehab which consisted of breathing exercises and taking a bundle of antibiotics.

As well as the physical injuries, there's been the emotional and psychological toll, including nightmares.

"I have quite a few. They're not as bad as they were. To start off with they were every second or third night but now it's maybe once a week."

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She would always be trapped in her car but in different scenarios.

"Sometimes I'd die, sometimes I wouldn't. Sometimes I was just trapped in the dark, I couldn't move. That was the worst nightmare.

"I've never been scared of the dark or being alone but I'm now scared of the dark. I don't like the sound of gravel or helicopters. I don't like feeling alone and I don't like being somewhere where I can't get out ... it does make it hard but you learn how to deal with it."

She began driving again in late October, but had to get used to the sound of gravel first.

Bronwen Jones gets a hug from her dog at her Taumarunui home. Photo/Alan Gibson
Bronwen Jones gets a hug from her dog at her Taumarunui home. Photo/Alan Gibson

"I can walk on gravel now, I still don't like driving on gravel and the dark issue, well, a lot of people are afraid of the dark and I just have a light on in the hallway. It's nothing I can't deal with.

"I've had my first trip on my own, travelling out of town. It was a bit scary but I did it, to Rotorua. I travelled past my accident site which was a bit eerie but I have been there before, my partner took me there. We stopped and had a look around ... it does make me remember but it doesn't bring flashbacks now which is good."

She's been back at work, part time, as a receptionist at Taumarunui Hospital, for a few months now too.

"I started off with three days a week and I'm slowly progressing to more hours and more days and it's going good. Everyone at work has been real supportive. They just want to make sure that I'm okay. It's a slow recovery and they don't want me to rush back."

However, overall she was just grateful to be here. After all, if it wasn't for the team from Max McKenzie Builders spotting her on the side of the road she's not sure she would even be around.

"They're my heroes and they always will be. They didn't have to do what they did but they did it and I will be forever grateful for that."