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After the rescue, she lost her two feet — and along with them, a tattoo celebrating her four children.
But while Kristin Hopkins endured six days trapped in her mangled car along a remote Colorado ravine, she refused to yield to any thoughts of death. Following her double amputation, she refused to surrender something far more precious: her life.
"The first time I went from the bed to the wheelchair, I sat there and cried because I was like, ‘Oh dear God,’ this is going to be hard,' " Hopkins told NBC station KUSA of Denver in a segment that aired Monday night.
Then, Hopkins said, she recalls an abrupt shift overhauling her outlook: "Get over it, because this is your life ..."
In her first interview since being found barely alive on May 4 by two passing motorists, Hopkins said she can recall only flickering images and stray moments of the more than 100 hours she spent in a blanket of shattered glass, bleeding and without food or water.
A tree trunk outside one car window. Her feet, each clearly shattered. Her inability to move forward or backward. Her inability to communicate with anyone, lodged 120 feet below a mountain highway.
"I remember like the first day or so was, ‘Oh my God, I have to go pick up my kids,’ and I couldn't find my phone or anything ... to text or call or anything. ...
"I tried to crawl forwards and I couldn't get out and I took a nap, and then I tried to go backwards out of it, and I still couldn't get out," Hopkins said.
She does remember, just barely, the umbrella — later spotted by her rescuers with desperate words scribbled in the stripes: "Thirsty + hungry … Six days no food or water … Please help. Can't get doors open … Need doctor. Hurt and bleeding."
"The one door I could open this much, I got the umbrella out and I opened it and it stayed there. … I don't remember what day that was," said Hopkins, 44.
She’s now focused on battling through painful physical therapy sessions, her children and the river of messages she is receiving, each filled with encouraging words.
"I never had that death thought in my head," she said. "It was more or less ... 'when will somebody find me?'"