A Shropshire teacher who was left with horrific facial scars following a skiing accident is attempting to sue the family of a child she said hit her with a pair of skis.
Louise Timbrell, 42, was holidaying at the Morillon resort in the French Alps two years ago when she claims she was struck by the blades that were slung over a young girl’s shoulder.
Ms Timbrell, of Ackleton, near Bridgnorth, said she was standing, letting people pass her, when she was hit by the skis as the girl sped down the easy-grade blue run.
The mother’s cheek and lip were so badly slashed that even now, two years after the half-term accident in February 2015, she is still scarred, and has flashbacks and nightmares.
She also said she has weekly therapy to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I get flashbacks and have nightmares,” Ms Timbrell, said. “Just looking at my face is a reminder every day of what happened to me.
“The accident has dramatically changed my life. I am terrified of going skiing again, something that has been a tradition for me and my family for a long time.
Ms Timbrell has been skiing since childhood, going to the slopes every year, and is accomplished at the sport.
But now says she is terrified of hitting the slopes again.
Her face is also scarred, she dribbles and struggles to drink out of a bottle because she has difficulty pursing her lips after stitches were used to repair the tear.
Ms Timbrell’s husband Andy, 43, a chartered surveyor, and their children Archie, now 12, and Darcy, 16, were skiing in front of her on the busy slope.
“There were a lot of people about because it was half term, so I stopped to let people pass me,” she explained.
“Then I just remember getting hit in the face. It all happened so quickly and the next thing I knew I was lying in the snow going in and out of consciousness.
“I could just hear my children screaming and crying and my face was in so much pain.”
The right-side of Ms Timbrell’s face was cut from her cheek to her lip, severing the upper lip muscle through the inner lip, leaving a hole into the gum.
With the snow covered in blood, the nearby mountain rescue team stretchered Ms Timbrell three miles from the crash site to the bottom of the slope.
There, she had emergency care, bandaging up her mouth to stop the bleeding.
“My hood was filled with blood and straight away I knew it was really serious,” Ms Timbrell said.
Her husband and two children joined her at the bottom of the slope, where they were told her injuries were so severe she had to be taken by emergency services to Sallanches Hospital, 40 minutes away.
Ms Timbrell’s daughter Darcy travelled with her in the ambulance, while her husband and son made their way back to their chalet before driving to the hospital.
“I was in so much pain, but I just didn’t want to know what had happened to me, or to see my face,” said Ms Timbrell.
Once examined by doctors, she was told she would need six internal stitches to repair her severed upper lip muscle, plus eight external stitches to the outer and inner lip.
“I was in a state of shock, but in hindsight I am so thankful I had my sunglasses on, otherwise the skis could have cut my eye and it would have been a lot more serious,” she continued.
“I still hadn’t looked in the mirror, I couldn’t bear to see what had happened to me, but the journey home was just so painful.”
After around 10 hours, Ms Timbrell was discharged from hospital and the family cut their holiday short by two days, setting off on the 15 hour drive back to Shropshire.
Once home, Ms Timbrell went to the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and was later examined by a maxillo-facial specialist, who deals with issues affecting the mouth, jaws, face and neck.
It was then that she faced her injuries by looking in the mirror for the first time in three days.
“I was absolutely heart-broken. It was the first time I’d seen my injuries and I looked such a mess. The cut was across my right cheek and down to my lip and I had a black eye,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe what I looked like.”
Medics said there may be permanent scarring to her face and, two years on, Ms Timbrell said she can’t drink out of a bottle or put on lip-liner because of the new shape of her lips and cheek, she dribbles when she speaks and struggles to walk because of the impact of the smash.
But it’s not just physical damage Ms Timbrell claimed she suffers with.
She says she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by a therapist and struggles to talk about her ordeal.
She said: “My face has healed quite well, but I still see a counsellor every week. I’ve also recently been referred to a speech and language therapist, as I find that I now dribble when talking to the students in my classes, which is really embarrassing.”
Ms Timbrell paid for the medical treatment upfront, but has since claimed the cost back through their travel insurance.
She has now hired law firm Irwin Mitchell and is suing the young skier’s family’s insurers after claiming she was hit by her.
The skier, thought to be around 12, is British but lives in France.
Victoria Pegg, international serious injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Skiing holidays are fun for all the family, but there can be a greater risk of an accident if skiers do not behave responsibly.
“Cases like Ms Timbrell’s show that even if you’re a competent skier, accidents on the slopes can still happen if other skiers on the slopes do not ski safely.
“What is important for Ms Timbrell now is to rehabilitate after her accident, where she suffered physical and emotional scarring that is still to this day affecting how she works.”Subscribe to our Newsletter