Last Friday 19-year-old Brittany Erding was cruising along County Road 5 near Forestville State Park, about 40 miles south of Rochester, when she hit a slippery patch of road and lost control of her station wagon.
According to Fillmore County Sheriff Tom Kaase, the car went careening over a 40-foot cliff, crashing into the middle of the partially frozen Root River.
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Erding was smart enough to be wearing her seat belt and lucky enough to land the station wagon with its tires down. The car smashed through the ice and as it sunk she squiggled out one of its rear doors and picked across large ice chunks sitting in the river to get to shore.
From there she made her way to a nearby farmhouse, and at 7:11 p.m. the owners of the house called 911.
"She indicated to the people [at the house] she wasn't injured, but we sent an ambulance anyway and they confirmed she was okay," said Sheriff Kaase.
The aftermath of the accident spiced up some lucky tow truck driver's night. He had to borrow a dry suit from a nearby fire department so he could wade into the river and winch out the car.
"People should realize they need to always be prepared for the winter," said Kaase. "Have clothing and supplies with you because as this shows, anything can happen at any given time and you want to be prepared for it."