VACAVILLE (CBS13) — The search is on for a semi-truck driver in a hit-and-run accident that nearly killed a Vacaville woman on Interstate 80.

It was nearly two weeks ago at Manuel Campos Parkway when Nicole West tried to pull over because she was having car problems. She had just undone her seatbelt, when she was suddenly hit by the semi truck.

It will be months before she can go home—she went in for her third surgery since the accident on Wednesday.

“She kind of wrote a little note when she was still heavily sedated that she was terrified, and that she doesn’t want to die,” said her friend Amanda Powell.

But the 27-year-old West would survive to tell her story, and she remembers every second of the accident that changed her life forever.

West told family and friends that at about 7:30 p.m. on March 27, a semi-truck with a green cab and white trailers rear-ended the driver’s side of her car on westbound Interstate 80, causing it to spin and flip over. The force threw her onto Interstate 80.

The driver never stopped, but others did. One of the first to drag West off of the busy interstate happened to be Powell’s co-worker. Meanwhile Powell didn’t know what had happened to her friend.

“He was all freaked out—‘Looked like somebody died,’ and I was like, ‘Oh that’s really sad,’” she said. “And then Nicole’s mom called me.”

Probably the toughest part of the recovery Powell says, is that Nicole is away from her 4-year-old son. She was on her way to pick him up when she was hit.

When little Chaze turns 5 next month, Nicole will be stuck in the same hospital bed.

“His mother won’t be able to be there for his birthday, won’t be able to take him to the park, won’t be able to run around with him, can’t even pick him up right now,” Nicole’s husband, David Christopoulos, said.

She told him the last thing she remembers was the headlights coming toward her as she laid on the freeway.

“We are begging and pleading, somebody out here had to see something,” he said. “He’s an 18 -wheeler—that’s really a tank on wheels. It could happen to anybody.”

Powell says her best friend has a tough road ahead of her.

“Her spine was detached from her pelvic bone, her pelvic bone was broken in several places, she had broken ribs, collapsed lung, broken leg,” she said.

Luckily West did the one thing she could do during the crash that likely saved her life.

“She’s a medical assistant, so she knows if you cover your head, more than likely you’ll be alright,” Powell said.

Probably the toughest part of the recovery Powell says, is that Nicole is away from her 4-year-old son. She was on her way to pick him up when she was hit.

While she’s focusing on getting better, her family and friends are doing what they can to catch the driver.

“He’s totally flipped her life upside down and as well as a lot of other people, so it’s nothing that we can’t get through,” Powell said. “but it would definitely make it easier just to know that the person that caused this has some sort of remorse.”

Powell says West will likely be in the hospital for six months, but she’s expected to make a full recovery that could take years.


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