updated 12/7/2004 8:21:53 AM ET 2004-12-07T13:21:53

A woman survived being impaled by a 12-foot metal fence post that pierced through her mouth and came out the back of her neck in a car accident, authorities said.

Emergency crews had to saw off part of the 1½-inch thick fence rail to free Alejandra Martinez, who was still awake when crews arrived at the scene. Fire officials were shocked to find her alive.

“Talk about having an angel as a co-pilot,” Fire Chief J.R. Rosencrans said. “On her rearview mirror she had a picture of the Madonna. You can tell she is a religious person.”

Martinez, 28, was in critical condition late Monday, recovering from surgery, officials said.

Earlier Monday, Martinez drove through a stop sign at an intersection and hit another car, Anderson police spokesman Terry Sollars said. She then lost control, careened off the road and went through a chain-link fence.

The car hit a concrete porch, shoving it three feet back, Sollars said. The metal rod from the fence went through the driver’s side of the windshield, he said.

A passenger in the back seat was not injured.

Anderson is about 35 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

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