Trapped for 9 hours, Brockport woman shares survival story

Dawn Hickey Dunlap at home in Brockport with her children. She was seriously injured in a car crash on November 30th and trapped for 9 hours.

BROCKPORT/BYRON - A Brockport woman is sharing her remarkable story of survival. Dawn Hickey Dunlap was trapped in her car for nine hours in freezing temperatures after a car crash.

Dunlap says she doesn't remember the crash.

"The next thing I remember is waking up in my car,” said Dunlap.

It was November 30th at about 10 p.m. She was driving home through Byron when she swerved to avoid a deer.

"They say the car flipped three times, then I hit the tree, which stopped it from flipping,” said Dunlap.

She was pinned and tried yelling for help, but nobody heard her calls. Her worried family called her cell phone. She couldn't reach it.

"I could see it. It was on the other side of the car, lighting up. I tried to use my one arm to get over to where the light was, but I couldn't reach it,” said Dunlap.

Dunlap didn't realize the extent of her injuries. She had 10 broken ribs, a collapsed lung and her left arm and artery had been severed.

"The way it was pinned on the outside of my car, the car actually created a tourniquet on my arm, which allowed me to not bleed out and die,” said Dunlap.

She survived the night. The temperature was just 21 degrees.

"It's pretty much live or die based on when the sun comes up. I knew I was really, really cold and I knew I couldn't get out. I was at the mercy of someone finding me at that point,” said Dunlap.

She says she prayed and focused on her children, three-year-old Annabelle and Noah, just two-months-old at the time.

"The thought that I would never see them again. I think that's what pushed me the hardest,” said Dunlap.

At 7 a.m. a driver passed the wreck. A quarter mile down the road, he turned around.

"Something just kept telling him go back, go back, go back. So he turned around and came back and went to my car and found me,” said Dunlap.

She would spend the next three and half weeks in the hospital. Doctors had to amputate her left arm. Despite the setback and her other injuries, she was determined to be home for Christmas.

"That was my big push. I was pushing in the hospital and walking and doing these things that the doctors didn't think I could do because my drive was to be home for Christmas,” said Dunlap.

On December 23rd, Dunlap came home. She was able to celebrate Christmas with her family. She also welcomed Mark Beehler, the good Samaritan who saved her, into her home.

"He doesn't really want to take credit. He doesn't feel like a first responder or a rescuer. I explained to him, you were my first responder. You are my hero, you saved my life,” said Dunlap.

Dunlap was a swimmer in high school and college. She believes that experience and her "stubborn will" helped her survive.

Dunlap has a long list of thank yous she asked that we share: The Byron Fire Rescue Team, the Mercy Air Lift team, the Strong Hospital Doctors, Nurses and Staff, the Hillside Family of Agencies staff and her co-worker Bree Taylor, Greece Athena Olympia Middle and High School staff and friends of her siblings, Brockport Ready-Set-Grow staff, the Rochester area swimming community, family and friends, and prayers from religious groups.

A GoFundMe account has been setup to help the family as Dunlap recovers. If you'd like to donate, click here.

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