"The fear was so crippling at that point," Todd Chrisley tells PEOPLE

By Brittany King
Updated January 23, 2017 12:38 PM
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Todd Chrisley endured a parent’s worst nightmare: He received a late-night phone call alerting him that his child was in a terrible car accident.

Speaking with PEOPLE, the father of five opened up about the awful moment when he received a call before bed notifying him that his daughter Savannah was in a serious car wreck.

“I was at home in the bed and the phone rang. You always know when the phone rings late at night you know it’s not good,” he explains to PEOPLE exclusively. “So I reached over and grabbed the phone and when I said, ‘Hello,’ it was the highway patrol and they said my daughter was in an accident and that I need to go to the hospital.”

“I literally fell to my knees. The fear was so crippling at that point,” Todd reveals. “And when I fell to my knees, Julie got out of bed and said, ‘What’s wrong?’ I said, ‘It’s Savannah.’ Julie [Chrisley] took the phone and got all the information. I jumped up and threw on some clothes and I got in the car and was at the hospital by the time they got her there. I didn’t know anything until I got there, they wouldn’t tell us anything over the phone.”

Credit: Desiree Navarro/WireImage

Savannah, 19, lost control of her car after her floor mat got stuck behind the pedals and she hit a guardrail Monday night. The reality star was left with a broken vertebrae, cuts, bruises and pain throughout her body.

“When I got [to the hospital] the doctors took me back and told me she was okay, but that she’s been in a very bad car accident and she’s got some neck issues, some burns from the airbags, the seatbelt cut into her shoulder and across her chest and that she’s experiencing some numbness in her hands,” Todd recalled. “It was just a horrific experience seeing her lying there. The next five hours they were doing CT scans and blood work… She was there for about 26 hours.”

As for her recovery, Todd explains that it will take Savannah roughly six weeks to full recover.

“They’re telling us no, that she won’t have any long-term side effects,” he said. “Within 6 weeks she should make a full recovery.”

Sadly, following her crash, Savannah and her father experienced online bullying from trolls who claimed texting was the root of her accident.

“People were coming on my social media and saying, ‘I wonder if you’ll be spending as much on her funeral as you do her cars,’ ” reveals Todd. “What happened was an accident. Anyone who watches the show knows I monitor my kids’ phones. What do you think the first thing I did once I knew she was okay? I checked that phone. And the last call that she had was to me, before I went to bed.”

“The last text message she sent out was 44 minutes before she had her wreck,” he continued. “So for people to say, ‘Oh, yeah, it was the floor mat, she was texting and dropped her phone in the floorboard and that’s why she wrecked, dumb b—ch.’ Those kinds of things are hurtful.”

All that Todd and the rest of the family cares about is that Savannah is safe and will recover from her injuries.

“The good news is Savannah is safe and alive,” he said. “She’s going to recover and she has a family that worships the ground that she walks on.”