ST. STEPHEN, SC (WCSC) - A miracle. That's how Peggy Huff describes herself after an Amtrak train slammed into her Jeep Grand Cherokee, leaving it unrecognizable, last month in St. Stephen. Although multiple bones in her body were broken in the collision, she's alive and, she says she's been 'given a second chance.'
"I should be dead," says Huff. "When you look at something like that you really can't imagine that anybody would live through something like that."
Holding a picture of her SUV, given to her by a first responder, Huff says she's still stunned she made it out alive.
"I never thought I would ever get hurt on that track," she says. "I never thought anything like that would ever happen."
The accident happened at a railroad crossing at Nursery Court less than a minute from her home. Huff says before the accident she crossed the tracks at least 6 times a day. She says she always makes sure to look in both directions before crossing since the intersection doesn't have a gate to stop cars when a train is approaching.
But Huff can't remember what happened on September 11. Or even 48 hours before the accident.
"I have really tried to remember bits and pieces about that day and I can't remember anything," says Huff, who is nervous one day she will remember the horrific crash.
A South Carolina Highway patrol report says the accident happened at 1:25 in the afternoon. It says 54-year-old Peggy Huff "attempted to cross the tracks and was struck by the train."
But even the SCHP hasn't fully figured out what happened yet. According to their records, the collision is still under investigation.
Huff says she woke up in the ICU at the Medical University of South Carolina five days after the accident. First responders and her family were able to tell her bits and pieces of the crash.
The first person on the scene told Huff they found her sitting up in between the tracks. She said Huff was stunned but responsive. Her car was in three different pieces scattered around the railroad.
"A lot of people could not believe that I survived it," says Huff. "It was a miracle that I did survive it."
Huff is now in a wheelchair, able to get around with her walker, and is still limited by the accident.
She says doctor's told her she broke her neck in three places, her back in five places and her hip and pelvis. She says her rib cage was completely dislocated from her chest and her left lung was completely collapsed.
But she's alive.
And now she's on a mission to see if she can bring more safety to the railroad crossing that could have cost her life.
"What really what scares me is the fact that this could happen to somebody else," says Huff. "We need to get some kind of safety arm, traffic arm or something across that track not only for me but for other people who have to cross that track. I don't ever want to happen to somebody else. The next person might not be as lucky as I am."
Doctors believe the 54-year-old will be walking again by Christmas but Huff has other plans.
She says she wants to walk by Thanksgiving to bring the turkey to the table under her own power.