01/19/2015 07:00 EST | Updated 03/21/2015 05:59 EDT

Joanne Brochu calls survival 'a miracle' after SUV falls through ice

Joanne Brochu had taken this route many times before. 

In fact, the local fire department estimates that about 50 people travel it everyday. 

It's not a regular road. It's the makeshift ice road at the Clarksboro Ferry Crossing. Warman and Aberdeen, Sask., are separated by the South Saskatchewan River. According to Warman Fire Rescue, in the wintertime a path is often grated across the frozen water and locals use it to cut down their travel time.

Despite this Brochu, a grandmother of four with one more on the way, was cautious. She noticed tire tracks approaching the water and spotted them going across the river as well. 

"People were using it," she told CBC News Sunday. "I could see across with my lights and there were no barricades on either side."

Brochu's sister had taken the road just a few days earlier, so with this in mind, she began crossing the river like she had many times before. She got about three-quarters of the way across when she heard the sound of water. The next thing she knew her vehicle took a nosedive into the frigid river. The South Saskatchewan's currents were strong enough to turn her SUV in a different direction. There was water up to her windows almost instantly.

"And my first thought was, 'oh my god, I'm headed down the river, nobody is ever going to find me,'" Brochu said.

Help arrives quickly

Frantically Brochu pulled out her phone and tried calling 911. She had no service, so she stuck her hand out the window and tried again. Still no luck. Finally she rolled her window down and climbed onto her roof. Brochu got through for a time and was able to tell them where she was. 

"I was sitting on my roof, I could hear the sirens right away which was a great sound to hear," Brochu said, adding it wasn't long before help arrived. 

But once they got there, Brochu began to worry. 

"I want them to rescue me but I don't want them to go under," she explained. "I was yelling to them you can't come out here, you can't come out here, it's open water."

"I didn't want them to lose their lives trying to save me. I didn't want my family to lose me."

Moments later, Brochu's vehicle began to sink. The firefighters yelled at her to jump from her roof, over nearly one-and-a-half metres of water to some nearby ice. 

She made it, just as her car sunk into the water. From there she crawled toward her rescuers. She was completely unharmed, something she calls a miracle.

"The Warman Fire Department, there isn't the words to express how thankful I am for them. I will never find the words to be able to tell them," she said.