KILLARNEY, Man. — Donations are pouring in to a GoFundMe page for a Manitoba woman who spent a painful and frigidly cold night in a ditch, huddled for warmth with her young daughter after they were thrown from a vehicle in a crash.
The fundraising page was started by a friend of Kristen Hiebert earlier this week with the goal of raising $15,000 but by Wednesday night it had already exceeded $20,000.
In a posting on the page, Morgan Campbell called the generosity and kindness of donors "humbling."
She said Hiebert "expressed tearful disbelief" when told of the outpouring of support.
The single mother and her four-year-old daughter, Avery, were heading home on Sunday night when their car slid off a rural highway near a bridge and rolled down a steep slope to the frozen Souris river.
After several hours in -23 C temperatures futilely waiting for rescue, and although she was suffering from multiple broken bones, she managed the next morning to crawl up the slope and get the attention of a passing motorist.
"They were in the snow as far as I'm aware," said Campbell. "Kristen climbed on top of Avery to keep her warm.
"When the sun finally came up, she decided that she would leave her daughter in the car and she would try to climb this ditch to get some help."
Deputy Fire Chief Craig Kozak said volunteer firefighters from the nearby town of Ninette were the first emergency responders to arrive at the scene of the crash.
He said several motorists had already pulled over to help and had Hiebert and Avery in the back of an SUV to keep warm.
“I just spoke to her for a quick second in the car before EMS got there," said Kozak. "She was sitting there, it looked like maybe in a little bit of a state of shock."
Once paramedics arrived, Kozak was able to look at the wreckage down the embankment.
“Totally mangled. Yeah, it was in rough shape," he said.
Hiebert is recovering from two broken wrists, a broken femur and frostbite. Friends have said she is facing multiple surgeries, but is grateful that Avery didn't break any bones and is in stable condition.
Many can't believe that despite the enormous pain Hiebert was in, she was able to climb that slope and get help.
"She's a hero," said Campbell. "She's amazing. That is the power of a mother's love."
(CTV Winnipeg, The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press