A woman stranded for days after her car hurtled off a mountain pass says her children were what gave her the will to survive.
Kristin Hopkins' survival was nothing short of miraculous for the mother of four, who spent five days trapped in her overturned car 80 feet down an embankment near Fairplay. Her family reported her missing on April 29, the same day of the accident. There were no indications of foul play, so it was assumed she left on her own free will. There was no active search for her.
While officials thought she'd gone off on her own, Hopkins spent days desperately trying to attract the attention of motorists above her on Highway 285. She reportedly wrote pleas for help on a red-and-white umbrella that she pushed through a broken window of her crushed car.
Firefighter Jim Cravener, who helped with Hopkins' eventual rescue, said the notes were hard to read, but appeared to say: "no food, no water; please help me; and need a doctor."
Despite the increasingly dire circumstances, Hopkins said she kept fighting because she knew her children needed her. A single parent, she said she knew she had to live because her children needed a mother.
Authorities say the spot she plummeted down is a popular place for drivers to stop and pull over in the fall to see the changing leaves, but not as much so at other times of the year. It was serendipitous that someone eventually spotted the car and called for help, thinking there was a body inside.
Firefighters assumed it was a recovery mission, but Cravener said as his colleague started to break one of the car windows, Hopkins put up a hand.
“At that point, it became a rescue," he said.
Hopkins lost her feet and part of her legs in the crash, but continues to improve by the day and has begun rehabilitation.
"I am alive," Hopkins reflected when asked about the loss of her limbs. "If I lose my feet, I lose my feet. It's happened to other people and they moved on and have wonderful lives...I will too."
“It’s really something off that ‘Shouldn’t Be Alive’ show,” Cravener marveled. “She really had a strong will to survive.”