Brooke Burns: I Almost Died

12/19/2005 at 04:00 PM EST

Brooke Burns: I Almost Died
Brooke Burns wore a neck brace for three months.
Evans Ward/JPI
Former Baywatch star Brooke Burns, who broke her neck last month after diving into her backyard pool, says her accident could have been fatal.

"I broke my neck, it's a classic neck break from chin to chest," Burns, 27, tells Access Hollywood in an interview airing Monday. "If I had been alone, I would probably be dead."

The actress credits her friend, a medical professional, with saving her. "He is the only paramedic fireman that I know. He saw me dive in, and he wrapped a wet towel around my neck and basically immobilized me and floated me in the pool until the paramedics came, so he saved my life," she says. "If I had been with anyone else that tried to move me, I would be at least half paralyzed if not completely paraplegic."

Burns says there also has been a bright side to the accident, which occurred Nov. 10: It brought her closer to her ex-husband, Nip/Tuck actor Julian McMahon. "I think he was the first one at the hospital," she tells Access. "He just really came through for me, and we really had a great talk. Family is family, and a piece of paper means nothing ... that is what we kind of came down to."

After undergoing surgery, Burns returned home Nov. 15, and "She's going to make a 100 percent full recovery," her manager told PEOPLE last month.

As for her future, the actress, who hosted Dog Eat Dog and starred on the TV soap North Shore, is next scheduled to costar with Rebecca Romijn on the upcoming WB series, Pepper Dennis.

Burns, who has a 5-year-old daughter, says she's grateful to be alive. "I've been praying a lot lately ... thank you God that I am alive and can put my arms around my baby girl."

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