Severed-Leg Tourist Saved by Local Nurse Recalls Taxi Barreling Toward Her: “I Couldn't Move”

A South Jersey nurse was among those who helped save Sian Green's life after her leg was severed when a cab jumped the curb near Rockefeller Center

Over a month after her life was saved by several Good Samaritans, including a registered nurse from South Jersey, a British tourist is speaking out about the accident that caused her to lose her leg.

Sian Green, 23, was in Rockefeller Center in New York City last month when she was struck by a taxi that jumped a curb. Green says she vividly remembers her day leading up to the accident -- visiting Times Square, stopping for a drink and exploring the city for the first time with her best friend -- and the moment before she was hit.

"I couldn't move. If I had gone left, it would've hit me. If I'd gone right, it would've hit me," Green tells the "Today" show in her first interview since she lost her leg in the accident five weeks ago.

Green had just arrived in New York for vacation and was walking with her friend on Sixth Avenue at 49th Street Aug. 20 when a yellow cab hit her.

The cab driver accepted a 30-day license suspension after the wreck, but says the crash was not his fault. An angry bike messenger banged on his car, he told authorities, which startled him into hitting his gas pedal and running up on the curb.

Green says she and her friend heard the argument between the cab driver and the bicyclist. Then she saw the yellow cab barreling toward her. She was pinned to the sidewalk in the collision, and her left leg was severed. A plumber used his belt as a tourniquet, but doctors were not able to save the limb.

Green, who has spent more than a month at Bellevue Hospital, started rehabilitation for her injuries about three weeks ago. Her live "Today" appearance marked her first time out of the hospital since the crash.

Seated in the studio, just a block from the accident that changed her life, Green told Matt Lauer it's unnerving to be around the busy streets of midtown. Seeing a yellow car makes her anxious, she said.

"We came here thinking we were coming on holiday, and it's been a whirlwind. It's turned upside down," Green said. "I've got to adjust to everything. I'm having to learn how to walk again."

The accident plays on her mind often, Green added. But she churns all the frustration -- about the crash, about being so far from home -- into momentum toward rehabilitation and adapting to her new body.

Though the young woman faces a long road to recovery, she remains optimistic -- and she thanks the plumber who used his belt to stem her bleeding and the other bystanders who came to her aid.

One of those bystanders was Amy Buttaro, a registered nurse from Haddonfield, NJ who was visiting Manhattan that day with her daughter. Buttaro says she ran towards Green and held the tourniquet down. She then stayed with her until medics arrived.

"They saved my life," Green said. "If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be here right now."

The city said Tuesday that the driver who hit Green may have been flagged for violations prior to the crash if not for a computer glitch. She says it's crucial the city -- and any cities with dense vehicle traffic and pedestrian-packed sidewalks -- review safety procedures and develop improvements.

"Look what can happen if you don't take your time on the roads. If you're feeling a little bit flustered, take a minute, because it's people's lives that you're messing with," Green said.

As for having to learn to use a prosthesis, she says, "It's just one of the things that I'm going to have to live with -- because a taxi driver lost his temper."

The Manhattan district attorney's office has been investigating the crash. Green’s attorney has said they would wait until after that investigation is complete before any other legal decisions would be made. 

Meanwhile, the cab driver who hit Green and the Federation of Taxi Drivers have raised thousands of dollars for a fund to help with her recovery.

Green says that she plans to return home to England as soon as she is able and return to school to finish earning her fashion degree. Once she gets her prosthesis, she plans to get back to work.

As for whether she'll ever visit New York City again, Green says she believes she will.

"I'll probably have the courage to come back one day. It's a beautiful city. I'm not blaming the city; it's just a mistake that somebody made," she said. "I'd love to come back one day and finish my holiday."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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