Despite her fame and success, the Czech model went through difficult life trials. It was 1995, when only 16-year-old Petra Němcová won the prestigious Elite Model Look modeling contest. The charming Czech impressed the judges and it seems her victory was well and truly justified. After graduating, she flew to Milan, where her modeling career began to take off promisingly. It didn’t take long for Petra to capture the global headlines of magazines and prestigious brands. Her biggest accomplishments include a Victoria’s Secret show or the 2003 Model of the Year award, which she received from the successful and influential magazine Sports Illustrated. Photo gallery of Petra Němcová in 2003 Source: Profimedia
Love like in a novel
The year 2003 just mentioned was extremely successful for Petra. In addition to the fact that she managed to develop her career – and her name became known not only in Czechoslovak show business, but also in Hollywood, she fell in love. British photographer Simon Altee became her love, who photographed her for the Freemans brand campaign. The couple immediately fell in love and after just a few months they were sure they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. “Siddy (ed., nickname by which Petra and close friends called him) was caring, caring and sensitive. He had the most beautiful blue eyes and was so masculine and sexy at the same time. And of course, very funny, during the photo shoots, but also outside, I laughed so hard it hurt my stomach,” Petra told Vanity Fair magazine. Photo gallery The British photographer immediately won the heart of the Czech model Source: Profimedia The fact that their relationship was extremely imaginative is also evidenced by the surprises Simon surprised her with. When he was supposed to pick her up from the airport, he dressed in a dark suit and tie and printed his name on the board to act as a professional driver. On the other hand, he showed his sensitivity with imaginative gifts that came straight from the heart. One of them was a leather book he gave to his love for the first anniversary. “On each page he wrote about beautiful times we had together, written messages we exchanged or things he loved about me – how I twirl my fingers or how I squeeze through the fridge. C It was the most beautiful and wonderful gift a woman could receive. He spent so much time on him,” the model described when describing her relationship, which she had when she was 25. On the front page of the book produced was a short but revealing message – I love you.
The most beautiful moments have been replaced by the most difficult
The couple decided to spend the Christmas holidays together on vacation. It was Petra who planned the vacation as a special surprise for Simon. Thailand was the heart of the model from the first moment and she wanted her future husband to recognize her second home, as she used to call this country. Even though she didn’t have a promise ring in her hand, they planned to get engaged. “We talked about it, it was only a matter of time. We went to a romantic dinner on the beach, talked about our future, planned how many children we wanted to have. He said that he would like to have two – and adopt a child from the orphanage,” Petra recalls. All the holidays were spent in a wonderful spirit and the couple really enjoyed their time together in a beautiful environment. They spent the first days together on a diving cruise, during which they discovered the beauty of the underwater landscape. In the evening, when the sun went down, they looked at the stars. Christmas was also unusual, but all the more beautiful. They spent them together in the village of Khao Lak. On the beach, they drew in the sand with sticks, played tic-tac-toe, played football with a coconut, read books and had fun: “It was amazing, really like a fairy tale fairies. I’m grateful for what we experienced in Thailand. Sidy was so happy. It’s strange how everything can change from one second to the next…” Photo gallery of Petra and Simon almost to the day exactly one month before the tragedy Source: David Kundrát/ Czech News Center / CNC / Profimedia
A drama that changed his life
It was December 26, 2004, shortly after breakfast. Petra was packing so she and her significant other could move on to their next destination while Simon was in the bathroom. “Suddenly I heard people screaming, through the window I saw them running frantically. At first I thought an earthquake was coming, but not even a second later the water started to slowly pouring into our bungalow. I heard Siddy yell – Petra, what’s going on?” the model described the moments of initial terror to the aforementioned American magazine. Before Petra could respond, however, a strong stream of water rushed through all the windows – and the whole bungalow was blown away. Simon disappeared from the model’s reach almost immediately, but she still remembers the last glimpse of his face. “The last time I saw him, he was scared and shouting my name. I saw there was a bungalow roof nearby, so I shouted at him to hold on to it,” he said. Němcová painfully remembers. However, Simon did not survive and the strong water current carried him away before his eyes… Photogallery Bungalows in Phuket after the tsunami. Petra Zdroj also lived in one of them: Profimedia
She survived only by miracle
Even if Petra managed to seize the roofs, she was far from winning, quite the contrary. The worst was yet to come. The force of the water in the tsunami washed away heavy waste, things, but also parts of bungalows. A large part of them touched the pelvis of the famous Czech woman, who thus experienced the greatest physical pain of her life. “It was a huge and terrible pain. I screamed at the top of my voice, it was unbearable”, she says. For a moment, she even thought her life was over. A large amount of trash pulled her under the surface and the model began to drown. “I tried to breathe but there was so much waste he wouldn’t let go and I started swallowing water. At that point it was peaceful and I stopped to fight, I let it go. However, the garbage eventually let go of me and I’ve never been so happy to see blue skies,” Petra admitted. Another jet of water carried her to a palm tree to which she clung for an incredible eight hours. She always thought she had to survive. However, the mental pain added to the immense physical pain. As she fought for her naked life, she heard children’s voices pleading for her rescue, which gradually died out… Top Diva.sk Her sisters died in a concentration camp, her parents survived and prayed for her as a daughter: The life of Sonia…
She couldn’t believe it
The injured and naked Petra was found by the Thais, who were already on alert at the time, clinging to a palm tree. According to the model, all the hospitals in the region were packed with people who had survived. She herself ended up with a fractured pelvis, massive blood loss and internal bleeding. The devastating tsunami claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people, but Petra believed until the last moment that Simon would not be among them. “He was a really good swimmer. I thought he might have ended up unconscious somewhere, he might have been in a coma, lost his memory, didn’t know how to contact me,” Petra described in his hope. After being transported to the Czech Republic, she waited on the phone for messages about her love. Her support at that time was mainly her family, but also her closest friends – among them the model Tereza Maxová. They didn’t give Petra hope that Simon was alive, but on March 3, Petra had to say goodbye to him for good. The body of her partner, whom she planned to live with, was found about two kilometers from where their bungalow was originally located. Photo gallery The model believed until the last moment that Simon was alive and well Source: Profimedia
She turned the tragedy into a good thing
Immediately after Petra recovered, she founded the charity Happy Hearts Fund. It focuses on helping children who have survived natural disasters. To date, more than 300 schools around the world have been built thanks to this project. “Tragedy gives us the opportunity to give meaning to our lives. It will change our values and the way we want to move forward. I lost the person who was closest to me, but at the same time I got a second chance at life. I feel like I’m living for both of us now. I feel the responsibility to not only live like Simon, but also to help others,” added Petra. Even if today, incredible 18 years after the tragedy, she lives happily with her husband and her son Budhi in the Dominican Republic, she does not want to forget the misfortune she has experienced, quite the contrary. A strong birthday is commemorated and with it also the legacy that his beloved Simon lived – to live fully and with a smile on his face as if this day were his last. Peter’s photo gallery only came out in 2019 – 15 years after the death of his first great love. Source: Profimedia “Each year I light a candle to honor the soul of Simon and the souls of the 230,000 people who left us suddenly on December 26, 2004. This experience taught me many valuable lessons and I still recognize their depth to this day,” she recalled. You are a mother today.