Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
Richard Hammond shared the “intimate” details of the 2006 high-speed crash that left him with serious injuries in the hope it would “connect” with people affected by brain injury.
The presenter, 52, crashed a jet-powered dragster called Vampire at nearly 320mph while filming for Top Gear at the former RAF Elvington airbase near York.
Although the incident left him with serious head injuries, he managed to make a full recovery and returned to the show in early 2007.
Hammond recently shared his “personal” story as part of a video for the DriveTribe YouTube channel, which he co-founded with Jeremy Clarkson and James May.
In the video, which was filmed in the Lake District, he explained what he remembered dreaming in what could have been his final moments.
He said: “In hospital, in intensive care, things were apparently not looking very good, but I didn’t know, there was a lot of morphine floating around my system.
“I finally woke and I shared with my wife Mindy a dream I’d been having. A really, really, really vivid one, probably, partly, on a count of the morphine.
“And in my mind I’d been walking these hills here in the Lake District, overlooking Buttermere.
“I was having a lovely time strolling along and gradually I got a growing sense of you know when you know you’re in trouble.
“(It) grew and grew until eventually in my dream I turned back, I didn’t walk back around this tree and carry on and then I woke.”
After waking up and telling his wife, newspaper columnist Mindy, about his dream, she told him what was happening at the same time in the hospital room.
He said: “She’d been called into intensive care and been told ‘Mrs Hammond I’m really sorry things aren’t looking good’.
“I was on full life support and breathing apparatus, she was told it’s not looking good we think we’re going to lose him.”
His wife had asked if she was allowed to try shouting at Hammond.
“Apparently she roared and screamed and swore at me ‘don’t you dare die’ and that’s when I turned back from this tree in my dream and that’s when I woke,” he said.
“My last thought took me somewhere I love and somewhere I’m happy. So I’m not scared of this old tree. I pass it regularly, most months I come up here and walk, and every time I pass it, I do feel comforted.
“I know it’s where I’ll go. It’s still here and I’m still here. But it does speak of the importance of place and the joy of being connected with a place.”
After the video went viral, Hammond appeared on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme where broadcaster Evan Davis asked why he decided to share intimate details of his story – 16 years later.
He said: “It’s not often you get to be really personal and share quite an intimate story I suppose but I hoped it would connect with people.
“It was a big thing in my life and because it’s about a brain injury, that affects a lot of people, if it connects with anybody it’s worth telling.”