Now. Hannah Zavala /

By Liana Jacob

THIS COURAGEOUS mum-of-five was involved in a horrific car fire after she lost control of the vehicle when her drink was spiked during a day out and has since had five surgeries to mend her body including sewing her ankle back on after sixty percent of it was ripped off.

Burn on her head. Hannah Zavala /


In January this year, stay-at-home mum-of-five and wife, Hannah Zavala (28), took advantage of a day off and went out with a friend to play pool. Things turned hazy when she ordered a drink and left to grab a pool stick, during which time someone had spiked her drink with a date rape drug and since then she had a poor memory of what happened to her.

Ankle stitches. Hannah Zavala /


Hannah since learned that as she drove back home, her car crashed into a concrete barrier, which caused her car to catch fire. Her ankle was being burned, and when she tried to get out of the car by grabbing onto the handle, it melted. She then tried to smash the window in desperation, but it wouldn’t budge. Despite enduring this horrifying ordeal, Hannah does remember the bystanders who witnessed the incident and came to her came to her rescue. She was taken to the hospital.

Burns on her leg. Hannah Zavala /


She has since had five surgeries; sewing her ankle back together, she had an external fixation, which is used to stabilise bone and soft tissues, cadaver (fake) skin was put on her burns, foot surgery to fix her broken bones and a skin graft on her forehead.

“On January 28, this year, a friend and I went to the pool hall. I never go out because I am always looking after my kids, so this was the first time I was ever kid-free,” Hannah said.

Now. Hannah Zavala /


“I ordered a drink, I remember drinking it all then went to grab the pool stick, and that’s when my memory was gone.

“I realised that someone had put a date rape drug in my drink. So, I have no idea what happened afterwards.

“Several people said I was texting and calling them to come pick me up, but I don’t remember anything, the accident happened hours later.

Now. Hannah Zavala /


“I got into a car accident, which wouldn’t have been as bad, even though I did fracture my ankle but then it caught fire and I can remember trying to get out.

“I grabbed the handle, but it was completely melted, so I tried to kick the window, but it wouldn’t budge.

“I remember something hot hitting my head – I was screaming; ‘I need to get to my babies someone help me’.

“After what seemed like hours but was probably only minutes or seconds, I screamed out ‘mama loves you’ and I then felt defeated, closed my eyes and I woke up three or four days later in the intensive care unit.

Now. Hannah Zavala /


“It was bystanders that helped me out the vehicle – without the very helpful men who’d seen me, I would have been burnt alive.

“I’m still going through the recovery stage; visiting the burn clinic every three weeks. It’s amazing how burns work; one minute they seem closed-up and healing then the next they’re opened and needing attention again.

“I cried often. I felt ugly, I felt discouraged. I remember how I kept telling everyone that I looked like a monster – too scared for anyone to see me.

“It’s been a challenge, I’ve been in car accidents, I’ve had many broken bones, I was even in a wheelchair at seventeen. But the burns? A totally different ball park.”

Hannah with one of her daughters. Hannah Zavala /


Despite her husband being away, Hannah, who is from Michigan, USA, has credited him and her children as her number one supporters through it all. Her husband would call her regularly to make sure she was alright.

“They remind me constantly. They are the reason I fought to stay alive. Our saying is ‘we’re all we got’ – without me there’s no them, and vice versa,” she said.

“It took my man to constantly remind me that I’m alive and my babies to always remind me ‘you’re still beautiful mama’ to keep me going.

“It made me more aware. It made me realise that life is precious and that my children and husband are all I have.

Now. Hannah Zavala /


“It also showed me how strong I am and that some days I would forget the strength I had. I am a fighter. I am a survivor.

“My babies cried seeing me every time they saw me, and they never wanted to leave my hospital bed.

“I had to remind my older ones how strong they were and to always remember that their mama will never leave them without a fight.

“My husband was scared. He couldn’t get a hold of me for a few days after the accident and then he beat himself up for being away and not being home.

Now. Hannah Zavala /


“But he never missed a day. He would call me nine to ten times a day just to listen to me cry and then constantly told me how strong I was.

“I had to chop my hair off due to the burns on my head. I can’t work right now, so I’m a mum-of-five from my couch.

“Never take life for granted. In a blink of an eye, or one wrong turn, you could be gone. Love hard and live each day like it’s your last.

“Those scars? The don’t define you instead, they tell a story and remind you each day just how strong you are and how beautiful your scars are.”

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