An adventurous Utah couple hit a canyon trail on foot, hoping to capture some nature photos from a better vantage point. When they heard a sound coming out of the trees in the distance, their scenic hike took a terrifying turn.
Spencer Dreyden and his girlfriend, Cleo Jackson, were surrounded by beauty at Utah’s American Fork Canyon when the sound of chirping birds was suddenly silenced. Over the rustling leaves, they heard a woman calling for help with all she had left in her, which wasn’t much. Tucked behind thick trees and vegetation, Spencer and Cleo found a small car with 29-year-old Heather Blackwelder trapped inside, KSL reported.
Heather was badly injured, so much so that Spencer called it a “miracle” that she managed to survive in that mangled mass of steel, let alone get an ounce of sound out to call for help. Heather was driving on the canyon road two days earlier when her car went through the guardrail and plunged several hundred feet down the side of the mountain. It should have been sudden death, but something saved her and sustained her until someone could come to her rescue.
Spencer and Cleo were in the right place at the right time. To Heather’s knowledge, nobody else had been in earshot in the days she was trapped there, waiting for help. Her hours were numbered, making her all the more thankful the couple came along when they did. Even though Heather had been missing for two days, it wasn’t reported, so nobody knew to go looking for her.
As soon as the twosome found Heather, Spencer stayed with her while Cleo ran to Mutual Dell to call for help. Personnel from Utah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Lone Peak Fire Department, and LifeFlight responded after the call was made. They were stunned at the condition the woman was in, considering all that she had endured, along with the amount of time she was trapped there.
“From the distance of where the road was, and the condition that the car was in, it just, it seemed like she should have been way more injured than that,” Spencer Dreyden told Fox 13. “She wasn’t punctured at all by any of the metal in the car or anything like that. She just had, what I believed to be bones that were broken from being tumbled around.”
Heather had two broken ankles, her sternum was fractured, and her back and neck were broken. She was flown to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Doctors told her that she might be a quadriplegic or, at the very least, a paraplegic. They said walking, if possible, might take years to regain, but they would soon be proven wrong.
Heather defied the odds and is back on her feet and working. She says her survival and recovery were and are an amazing miracle. She owes all gratitude to God for putting this couple on a path to find her in time. She only had a day or two left in that condition to live, had they not come along when they did.
“The doctors who worked on her neck and her feet were amazed at how well everything went back together,” said Bonnie McMullen, Heather Blackwelder’s mom. “One time in the hospital, while she was sleeping, they stood there, amazed that her neck healed so miraculously.”
“Had somebody not found her today or the next day or so she would have died,” Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said. “It could literally have been years before she was found. (The area) is not a hiking trail, it’s not along a trail. It has thick trees and is on the side of the mountain. The car could have been well rusted before she was found.”
Without a doubt, God works in mysterious ways, and this instance is proof of that. Many miracles happened here. Heather survived the initial impact, falling hundreds of feet down a rocky embankment, and lived long enough to be found. She was never supposed to live, let alone walk again, but God has a funny way of proving us wrong.