Africa tour bus crash survivor returns to San Diego

Posted at 6:15 PM, Oct 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-19 21:15:41-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A local retiree is back home and recounting how a trip of a lifetime turned into a painful nightmare during a ride on a tour bus in Africa.

Three weeks later, the pain remains constant. But Jeannette Craig, 68, is grateful.

"Just so glad to be back home," said Craig, from her hospital bed at Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center.

After saving up for more than a year, the Santee woman set out on her dream vacation to southern Africa in September. She was on a tour bus headed to an elephant preserve in the country of Lesotho when the bus overturned, killing three and injuring the 12 others on board.

RELATED: San Diego retiree injured in African tour bus tragedy

"I was in shock. Things flying everywhere, people screaming. I was screaming, because I was hanging upside down. The guide couldn't unlatch me out of the seat belt, so he pulled me out and I dropped 4 feet," said Craig.

Wearing that seatbelt, a habit of hers, saved her life. She says she'll never forget the grim sight of the injured mixed with the dead, as she was transported by helicopter to a clinic, then taken to another in South Africa.

She was diagnosed with a fractured pelvis, a shattered leg and torn ligaments, and broken ribs.

After her trip insurance initially refused to cover a medical flight home, her family got involved and eventually, the insurance covered the flight. Craig arrived a few days ago.

At Kaiser Permanente, doctors would diagnose additional injuries, including blood clots in her leg and lung, and broken bones in her spine and chest.

Craig faces a long difficult recovery. The adventuresome retiree is ready to face it.

"I look forward to physical therapy, I hope within a year, I'll be hiking," said Craig.

That recovery will be a long one. A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help with the rehabilitation costs.