Richard Hammond has shared the “intimate” details of the 2006 high-speed crash near York that left him with serious injuries in the hope that it will “connect” people affected by brain injuries.
The presenter, 52, crashed the jet-powered dragster called the Vampire at around 320mph while filming Top Gear at the former RAF Elvington airbase near York.
Although the incident left him with a severe head injury, he made 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 described what he remembered dreaming of what could have been his last moments.
He said: “In hospital, in intensive care, things seemed to be going well, but I didn’t know, there was a lot of morphine floating around in my system.
“I finally woke up and shared my dream with my wife Mindy. It is, in fact, really clear, perhaps, in part, in the calculation of morphine.
“And in my mind I was walking these hills here in Lake District, looking at Gcuwa.
“I was having a good time walking around and gradually I realized that you know when you know you’re in trouble.
“(It grew and grew until finally in my dream I turned back, I didn’t go back around the tree I went on and woke up.”
After waking up, he told his wife, newspaper columnist Mindy, about his dream, and what was happening at the same time in the hospital room.
He said: “She was called to intensive care and told ‘Mrs Hammond I’m so sorry things are not going well’.
“I was on full life support and breathing apparatus, he was told ‘it doesn’t look good we think we’re going to lose him’.
His wife asked if he was allowed to try to yell at Hammond.
“Apparently he roared and shouted at me saying ‘don’t try to die’ and that’s when I turned to this tree in my dream and woke up,” he said.
“My last thought took me to a place I love and where I am happy. I am not afraid of this old tree. I pass it regularly, for many months up and down, and every time I pass it, I feel comforted.
I know that’s where I’m going. It’s still there and I’m still here. But it speaks to the importance of place and the joy of relating to place.”
After the video went viral, Hammond appeared on BBC Radio 4’s PM program where presenter Evan Davis asked why he had decided to share the details of his story – 16 years later.
He said: “It’s not often that you get so personal and share such an intimate story I think but I was hoping it would connect with people.
“It was a big thing in my life and because it’s about brain trauma, which affects so many people, if it connects with anyone it’s worth telling.”