WINDSOR, Colo. — A young Evans mother has a Good Samaritan to thank for saving her life.
The 22-year-old plunged into a frozen pond after losing control of her car on an icy road in Windsor.
It’s a picturesque pond, as wildlife soaks in it and a golden sunset reflects off its surface.
But just after 5 p.m. Thursday, Kimberly Garcia saw the ugly side of it.
“I couldn’t get out. The doors wouldn’t open. So I was just panicking, this was the end of it,” says Garcia.
As she drove home from work at Kodak — in the dark and in a snow storm — her car started to slide and rolled upside down into a frozen pond off Highway 257 and Eastman Park Dr.
“Not being able to get out of the car was the scariest, because everything was just filling up,” she said.
Her 2003 Chevy Cavalier broke through the ice, filling up fast with bone-chilling water.
Her only escape was through a broken back window.
“I slid my body through like a little crack in the ice between the ice and my car, and that’s how I managed to get myself out,” Garcia said.
But she still wasn’t out of danger. She can thank a passerby for that.
“He is the one who went to help me from the ice. I just laid on top of the ice because I couldn’t even move anymore. I was just cold. I was, I just completely just gave up,” she said.
“Just can’t thank him enough for doing that,” said Windsor-Severance firefighter Todd Vess, about Rick Merlino, who helped pull a soaked Garcia out of the frigid water.
Vess said Garcia is lucky help arrived in time because minutes make all the difference between life and death.
“Hypothermia is the biggest concern and when you go into freezing cold water in subzero temperatures like we had last night, and your body, within minutes, is going to start to shut down,” says Vess.
Garcia says because of her humble hero, her four-year-old still has a mother.
“I thank him a lot for helping me. ’cause if not, I would not have made it,” she says.
All that remains of the accident are cuts on her hand and a bad memory of it.
“I just don’t want to drive anymore now. I have a lot of fear driving,” says Garcia.
Merlino told us by phone he really didn’t do much.
Garcia says another driver wrapped her up in a warm sleeping bag as they waited for help to arrive.
The single mother was treated for hypothermia. She returns to work on Tuesday.