Woman reunites with first responders who saved her life, following car crash

Derby Brackett
Doug and Derby Brackett survived  Suffolk car crash
Doug and Derby Brackett
Posted at 7:14 PM, Mar 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 00:04:03-04

SUFFOLK, Va. - March 20, 2020, is a day Derby Brackett, the CEO of the Virginia Beach SPCA, says she will never forget. The day she and her husband survived a terrible car crash.

It’s been a long journey to recovery. Now she’s reunited with the Suffolk and Chesapeake first responders who saved her life. Derby and her husband Doug have worked with physical therapists in the last year on their recovery journey.

"When they last saw me, I was in the Nightengale air ambulance headed to the hospital. I was in really bad shape. I lost my arm. I had significant damage to the right side of my body, particularly my right ankle. My left leg a nail in it. I’ve got some metal in my back and back hip," Derby Brackett said.

It was a normal Saturday for Derby and her husband Doug until tragedy struck.

"As we drove onto 58, Doug looked at me and said ‘I can’t see.’ No warning. No nothing. I went okay and went to reach for the steering wheel and he was gone," Brackett said.

Her husband Doug suffered cardiac arrest at the wheel. The two were in the car with their two dogs when their car swerved and submerged in water.

Suffolk Fire Chief Mike Barakey says it brings him and his team satisfaction on the job to see that the Bracketts survived.

"When we leave, pick up or leave the scene, we don’t have any follow-up and to have the Brackett family come out a year later to the day of the crash and bring their family, dogs, it brings a lot of closure to the guys," Brackett said.

Derby says today is a celebration of life and for the work first responders do.

"The fact that I’m here standing here today, it’s really by the grace of God. I think it’s healing. It’s been a journey. It’s been a long journey for me. Being able to see them and connect with what happened. The trauma of that day makes it healing form me and makes the hope that much more real,"she said.