As supermodel Niki Taylor clings to life in an Atlanta hospital today, her doctor has described how she battled through the first 48 hours after a car crash that left her with life-threatening internal injuries.
Taylor, 26, one of the country's most successful fashion models, walked away from the crash, thinking she was fine because she suffered no external injuries, but then suffered severe pains in her abdomen.
She remains in critical condition in an Atlanta hospital, and Dr. Jeffrey Nicholas told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America that she is still recovering day-to-day.
Her injuries "were life threatening and remain that way," he said, adding it could be several weeks before she is out of danger.
The driver, one of two men with her in a 1993 Nissan Maxima, reportedly told police he lost control of the vehicle and hit a utility pole as he was trying to answer his cell phone. Taylor's publicist, Lou Taylor (no relation), said she was wearing a seat belt and added that neither drugs nor alcohol were involved.
Taylor has graced the covers and pages of magazines like Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Sports Illustrated. She also has appeared in ads for Cover Girl and Liz Claiborne.
Taylor was taken to Atlanta's Grady Hospital after suffering injuries to her liver and duodenum in the accident Sunday night.
Her sister, Joelle, said Taylor had been able to open her eyes and respond to questions by shaking or nodding her head and by squeezing her hand, but had been unable to speak.
Atlanta police spokesman John Quigley said Taylor fared the worst of the three people in the vehicle.
Driver James Renegar, 27, was charged with striking a fixed object and having no proof of insurance. Renegar and passenger John Lack, 30, were treated and released from the hospital. The two men said they were old friends of the model.
At first, the two men thought Taylor was fine and told rescuers no one needed help. But she later reported stomach pains and was hospitalized.
"Everyone felt she was OK, and then she had severe stomach pains," publicist Taylor said.
Success and Tragedy
A mother of twin 6-year-old sons, Taylor was planning to return to her South Florida home this week to start acting lessons.
Taylor was 14 when she became a Seventeen magazine cover girl. By 15, she was the youngest model ever to sign a major cosmetics contract for L'Oreal and the youngest face ever to land on the cover of Vogue. In a 1995 Forbes magazine survey ranking the world's top models, Taylor ranked sixth with estimated 1994 earnings of $2.4 million.
But Taylor also faced tragedy. In 1995 she found her younger sister, Krissy, dead from an asthma attack in their home near Fort Lauderdale. Daughter of a highway patrolman and a homemaker, Niki and her two sisters, Krissy and Joelle, had been inseparable.
After that tragedy, Taylor said there were times she felt like giving up her career.
"Oh, yeah, plenty of times," she told ABCNEWS' Nancy Collins, for an April 1997 story on Primetime Live.
"Everything that I've been through, everything's a learning experience. It's made me a stronger person, definitely. I've never felt so in control of my life, and it feels so good," she said.
ABCNEWS Radio's Andrew Colton contributed to this report