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Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 05:56 GMT 06:56 UK
Top Gear presenter 'nearly died'
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Mr Hammond has said he was "utterly terrified"
Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond has revealed he was "close to death" after he crashed in a jet-powered car.

The 36-year-old had been driving a 300mph jet-powered dragster when it veered off the track at Elvington airfield, near York, in September.

Mr Hammond was treated for a brain injury at Leeds General Infirmary.

The father-of-two described in the Daily Mirror how he had been "utterly terrified" and had had a "50/50" chance of surviving the accident.

I may have been dead, I may not have woken up
Richard Hammond

Mr Hammond said: "Doctors use a points system. Fifteen is normal, three is a flatline. I was a three. I was that close to being dead.

"It was 50/50 what was going to happen. I may have been dead, I may not have woken up."

The accident happened as Hammond was attempting a land speed record as he was being filmed.

Mr Hammond told the newspaper he still did not know "what went wrong".

At one stage, surgeons had considered drilling a "bore hole" into his head to drain the blood from his brain to relieve the swelling, but the operation was not deemed necessary.

Richard Hammond being moved to another hospital
Hammond has amazed medical staff with his recovery

His severe injury reduced him to a "child-like state" in which he became obsessed with Lego, which he said helped him recover.

He suffered short-term memory loss, became disorientated and also endured "excruciating" pain, for which he was prescribed morphine.

Mr Hammond, nicknamed "Hamster", went on to describe his wife Mindy, also 36, as "a rock" who had kept calm throughout his ordeal.

However, he spoke of his heartache at witnessing his eldest daughter Izzy, six, cry as she and her sister Willow, three, left the hospital after visiting him.

The BBC confirmed Mr Hammond had signed a two-year contract before his accident.

A spokeswoman said: "The contract pre-dates the accident."

She said the corporation could not confirm the return of Top Gear or any other future projects until it had received an update on Mr Hammond's progress.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The scene of Richard Hammond's accident



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