Woman stranded in ravine for 17 hours returns home after hospital stay

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PIEDMONT, Ala. (WIAT) — Ashley Johnson finally arrived home to Piedmont, Monday evening, after spending 5 days at UAB Hospital.  She was involved in a single-car accident leaving Oxford on the Anniston Eastern Bypass that left her stranded in a dark ravine for 17 hours.  

“I was just coming down the road and a deer ran out,” she said. “I swerved to miss it and that was it.  It was that fast.”

Johnson doesn’t remember much in the moments that followed. She said it was light outside when the crash happened. She awoke in darkness on a rock. She estimated she was 100-200 feet away from her crumpled vehicle.  Johnson believes she smashed through the windshield. 

“I thought, I’ve got to get to my car,” she remembered.  “There are going to be animals out here. Snakes, wolves, whatever–I don’t know, maybe even bears.”

However, Johnson was having trouble moving her leg. She was in extreme pain and was having trouble breathing. She would later learn that she had punctured lungs, broken ribs and that she had displaced her hip. She managed to drag herself back to the car and wedge most of her body inside through an opening between the windshield and door. Her legs had to dangle outside. 

According to Johnson, she must have lost consciousness again because she woke up when ants started biting her legs. 

“Multiple, my whole legs are covered,” she said.  A family member from behind her chimed in, “Thousands.”  

Johnson remembered being afraid, but also full of hope. She said that she felt God’s presence with her–but she also felt moved to action. 

“I knew the longer I sat there, the more I thought, no one is going to know that I’m down here,” she said. “They would have seen me by now.”

Johnson believed that her cellphone was dead. She had plugged it in, not long before the crash. She said the car charger didn’t really work–especially not when it came to giving her phone a full charge. 

“I thought, well, it’s going to be dead, Johnson said, “but I’ll look for it.  I didn’t have any other options.”

She managed to find it wedged somewhere in the car. When she got to it, she was shocked to see that it was 100% charged. She used it to call 911 and direct first responders to the crash scene. 

“Between the phone and the animals that I heard, the weather, and just the shape that I was in…I know that I wouldn’t be here [if not for God],” she said.  

Johnson estimates that it took first responders about two hours to free her from the car. She said she was incredibly relieved and grateful to see the number of people who came out to help her in her time of need. 

Her friends and coworkers are also helping. They’ve set up a GoFundMe page to help with her expenses while she recovers.  You can learn more here.

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