A SINGER who battled back from the brink of death in a car crash is one step away from the spotlight in the X Factor.
Ten years ago, Hartlepool woman Gina Pontoni, 48, was in the intensive care unit of a Bolton hospital.
She had been out with her friend when her car was involved in an accident on the M61 in Lancashire.
She broke nine ribs, shattered her right leg in 30 places, punctured a lung and smashed her skull in the accident.
She also suffered a lump on her throat which was too deep to operate and doctors gave her a 10 per cent chance of singing again, but she fought back by painfully re-building her vocal cords with the help of a coach.
Brave Gina is now back to her singing best and has gone through two auditions in this year’s X Factor.
She will find out within days whether she is through to the televised stages of the competition.
Gina said: “To think that I nearly lost my life and had to get my voice back, it would be brilliant if I could get through.”
Gina has already impressed X Factor judges on Tyneside when she performed a blues number at her first audition.
She was asked back for a second audition where she sang the Cher number I Found Someone.
She said: “I could have died and I could have lost my voice.
“Since the crash, I have just taken things a day at a time and taken it all in my stride.
“Yes, it would be fantastic to get through but if I don’t get through, it won’t devastate me.
“I’ll think ‘well at least I went for it and there might be another opportunity. I’ll never think it was my last chance.”
Gina’s X Factor bid comes at the same time a gig of her own.
She will be headlining next Friday at a supper club-style event at The Venue in Lauder Street in Hartlepool.
Tickets are £18.50 for a candlelit evening of cabaret music and a dinner.
She said: “It will be me and a six piece band and it won’t just be jazz.
“It is a bit of everything, a proper cabaret.”
There will also be a raffle with the proceeds going to the Seaton Holy Trinity Church restoration fund.
Only 20 tickets remain for the cabaret evening, and anyone wanting either tickets or wanting to find our more details, should contact (01429) 279886.