The mother of two recounted her car accident on a recent episode of the Bravo reality show, explaining that she fell asleep at the wheel blocks away from her home and woke up just in time to swerve her car into a ditch to avoid a head-on collision with a tree.
It was a frightening moment, but it turned out to be even more dramatic when days later, Darby told their castmates that Samuels had consumed “four martinis” at a lunch before getting into the vehicle. “I don’t know [if she has a problem],” Darby said on Sunday’s episode. “I don’t actually know.”
Darby’s accusation was disheartening for Samuels, who tells PEOPLE, “I do not have a drinking problem, was not drunk that day, and would never get behind the wheel if I was intoxicated.”
“If I had been drunk, and I really did have a problem with drinking, I would say, ‘Yeah, I have a problem, I made a mistake,’ ” Samuels says. “But people are wanting me to own something that really isn’t my issue. It takes away from people who are actually fighting for their lives, dealing with alcohol addiction.”
The day of the car accident was a busy one for Samuels, who is a mom of two. (She shares son Christopher, 5, and daughter Milani, 2, with husband Chris Samuels.)
She recalls getting up at 4 a.m. that morning to tackle the beginning of a packed day. “I was really over-extending myself,” Samuels says. “I was just moving into my house. I’m on the board of a charity called Adoptions Together. I didn’t have a nanny for my two young kids. I’m managing five rental properties and all of their financials. Plus, starting my business, Not For Lazy Moms. And I had just had a miscarriage weeks earlier. All while filming a reality show. I was exhausted!”
After shooting a scene with Darby in which they went shopping for swimsuits before a group vacation, the two went out to lunch. There, Samuels says she had “two drinks over the course of a meal.”
“I ordered three drinks, but one was a Moscow Melon, and I took a sip and didn’t like it, so I sent back for a martini,” she recalls. “I’m a very slow drinker. We were outside, and then went into the bar, and I brought that same drink with me and finished it there.”
Once the meal was done, Samuels and Darby separated — and Samuels spent “another hour or so” shopping while “drinking from a bottle of water.”
“I’m telling you, I didn’t even feel tipsy,” she says. “It wasn’t a matter of, ‘Are you okay, because you’re appearing like you’re drunk.’ If I was, Ashley wouldn’t have let me drive home. She would have called me a car and wouldn’t have left me leave. It was so casual and not even an issue. It was just a normal day.”
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About five minutes from her home, Samuels started to feel tired.
“It was as if they day just hit me,” she says. “I felt myself start of doze off. I said, ‘Wow — If that happens again, I got to pull over.’ But I rolled down the windows and turned the music up to try to keep myself awake.”
The next thing Samuels knew, she hit something and opened her eyes to see her car heading straight for a tree. “I slammed my breaks, turned the wheel, and said, ‘Whoa, I can’t believe I fell asleep,’ ” Samuels explains.
Her car had racked up $40,000 in damages. Samuels was also diagnosed with whiplash and a mild concussion.
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But nothing was more painful than the “lies” that she says Darby spread.
“It’s crazy,” Samuels says. “We were close friends. She more than anyone knew the things I was dealing with in my life. And she told me that she never said out her mouth, ‘I had four drinks.’ So to see it on the show the other night for the first time? I was crushed.”
“I was like, ‘Why am I doing this again?’ This is not what I signed up for,” Samuels adds. “Even with everything they’re trying to do for me, to tear a person’s character down? I would never do that to them. It’s just shady. There’s a different between wanting the show to be entertaining and tearing a person apart. That’s just evil. I never try to do anything malicious to Ashley. So for her to make this up? It’s just eye-opening.”
Asked if they could ever be friends again, even if Darby apologized, Samuels is doubtful.
“I can accept her apology but I don’t see myself ever being close with her again,” Samuels says. “Why would I? She literally came around looking for things. That’s not a friend.”
The Real Housewives of Potomac airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.