FITCHBURG (CBS) – A terrible car crash with a 70-foot drop, the teenage driver trapped in the freezing cold as frostbite invaded her fingers and toes. However, a fast thinking nurse had a brainstorm and today that has made all the difference.
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Johnson is the catcher on Fitchburg High School’s softball team. However, just a few months ago, there was a chance her playing days were over.
“My car was underwater. My car was turned over and I was traumatized,” she remembers.
It was a freezing February night. Audrey hit ice. Her car crashed through a chain link fence and plummeted into the Philips Brook in Fitchburg.
“I was covered in snow and ice and water. I was just freezing,” Audrey says. She climbed out of the car, but couldn’t climb the steep slope. “So I just kept trying to move, to stay focused,” she says.
No one knew she was there for an hour. “I could have lost some fingers and toes,” she says. “It was bad.”
When she was finally rescued, her body temperature had dropped to 86 degrees, nearly fatal. Her fingers and toes were dangerously frostbitten.
That’s where Amy O’Connor comes in. “My heart broke for her and you know it was, what can I do?” O’Connor says.
Amy is a nurse at the UMass Medical Center in Worcester. She worked the ICU that night. “I honestly didn’t think she was ever going to be out on the softball field again,” Amy says.
After Audrey’s core temperature was restored, Amy knew she needed to keep the teenager’s hands warm and moist. She had the innovative idea of using baby diapers dipped in hot water. It worked.
“When she started feeling, it was a pretty great feeling,” Amy says.
Today, Audrey is back at her position on the softball field. “I’m great. I’m at 100 percent,” she says.
“This is a miracle. It’s pretty amazing,” adds Amy.
“I love her so much. I’m so thankful for her. She’s like a miracle and a half for doing that for me,” Audrey says.
You may recognize Amy. A few months ago she performed life-saving CPR on a man who had collapsed at a gymnastics meet.