Crash survivor with 'internal decapitation' thanks Phoenix firefighters

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A young Phoenix woman is recovering from an internal decapitation.

Rachel Bailey sustained the rare, usually deadly injury in a car crash on Cave Creek Road in September 2011. Monday night, she got to meet the Phoenix firefighters who saved her life and prevented paralysis.

"You're the unsung heroes. I can't express enough gratitude," the 23-year-old told the group of men at Fire Station 7 on Hatcher Road.

Bailey severed her skull from her spine in the car crash. She spent a month in John C. Lincoln Hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

"But I just thought, 'I'm not going to let this beat me or define me,'" Bailey told 3TV.   

She can now walk and talk again, but does not remember about a five-week period of time around the crash.

"It's horribly impossible. I can't imagine it, but it happened," Bailey said of her decapitation.

"It's emotional to see her and see her doing so well," said fire Captain Wayde Kline, who was at the crash scene in 2011. He cooked dinner for Bailey's family and the firefighters Monday night.

"As firefighters, we often see patients at their worst. This reminds us the people we take care of are someone's son, daughter, mother or father," Kline said of their dinner with Rachel Bailey.