A horrific car crash that could've potentially left Amy Miko paralyzed and potentially dead miraculously saw her escape with her life, and that may not have been possible without local farmer Braden Szakaly, who saw the car and immediately rushed in to help. Two weeks later, both Miko and Szakaly were able to reunite in far better circumstances, as they met at the hospital and then met again at the 104.5 More Country studio to share their experiences.
Part 1: The Accident
Miko explained she was taking her regular drive to work when a speeding car attempted to pass her on the highway, and suddenly aggressively swerved back into her lane. What happened next was a blur.
"It's hard to describe what happened because it's all sensation, right? It just felt like the car went up and then it was like crash, crash, crash, it just kept rolling. Once it finally stopped, I wasn't sure if anyone was around at the moment. And the seat belt, I was suspended on the seat belt, it was holding me there, it was so painful. It was like the one thing on my mind cause it was digging into my stomach. I knew my arm was broken immediately because I couldn't use it, I couldn't reach the seat belt. The car was so crushed so all I could do was wave out what was like a little hole in the window kind of thing. I was just hoping somebody knew I was in there," she said.
"I didn't know if I was going to live or die."
Szakaly just happened to be passing by, and once he noticed the car and that it was on fire, he immediately rushed in to help. Miko initially wasn't aware the car was on fire, and once she said figured that out it caused intense panic, but fortunately Szakaly and other community members put the fire out with dirt until Abe Schroeder showed up with a fire extinguisher and put it out for good.
"I was definitely not fully aware of what was going on, I was in shock, and I didn't realize the car was on fire. I could see people running around panicking and I was like, 'Why aren't they coming over here?' And then I heard 'fire' and I was like 'Oh no, this is the worst-case scenario.' The most comfort I received during the whole time was when you (Braden) grabbed my hand and said 'Fire is out, don't have to worry about that no more. We're going to get you out of here.' Somebody cut the seat belt eventually, and I was dragged out. And I remember just feeling a sense of relief, like the fear went away."
Next thing she knew, she woke up in Foothills Hospital, where doctors said it was a miracle that she survived and that she avoided being paralyzed. The accident took a severe toll though, as she suffered a broken spine, multiple broken vertebrae in the neck, a broken arm, and a concussion.
Part 2: The Recovery
Two weeks have passed since the accident and despite the injuries, Miko is doing relatively well, as she can walk around and travel, so long as somebody is driving her. Being able to walk is something Miko definitely is not taking for granted, as the doctors said she came very close to being paralyzed even after she was removed from the car and in hospital care. The broken vertebrae pieces were gradually moving closer to her spinal cord, which required emergency surgery to make sure it didn't touch the spinal cord, which would have paralyzed her. Fortunately, the surgery prevented that, but it's also why Miko is currently wearing a neck brace.
The physical recovery will take around 4-6 months, and Miko is amazed she's already able to walk. Perhaps more impressive than the physical recovery is the mental aspect, as she's in high spirits despite going through a traumatic near-death experience.
"I definitely had some real low points, but the article (regarding Szakaly's role in rescuing Miko) actually helped me quite a bit, reading Braden's side and knowing that someone was there and that he wanted to reach out to me, and I actually shared the exact same feeling. It's really made me feel like there's something on this earth for me to do or something important, like it wasn't my time yet."
"Just reading the story really gave me this will to live again and made me just want to be a better person. Hopefully someday I can help somebody in a situation in need."
Staying positive didn't come easily at first, but for Miko it's all about perspective and counting her blessings. Rather than think about the injuries and the catastrophic accident, she instead thinks about the fact that she's alive and will one day be fully healthy again.
"I definitely had some dark days where I was just sitting there staring at the wall, like 'Why had this happened to me?' But there were a lot of sick people in the hospital, and I realized that there were a lot of people who had it worse than me."
"I could sit here and mope about the accident, and of course I can't help that I do relive it, but it's just: What can I take from it that's positive, right? I made a friend and saw how helpful and how good people were around me, how lucky I was considering the circumstances, and I just think it's made me a stronger person overall."
Part 3: Meeting Braden Szakaly
It only took around one week for Miko and Szakaly to meet at the hospital, but even prior to meeting Szakaly said he was already amazed by Miko's incredibly optimistic outlook regarding the situation when they were texting.
"I mentioned to her that on the same day of the accident we started planting that field (a field right beside the car accident) to barley. And she immediately came back with a joke and said, 'Well, that's a little ironic because I barley survived that.' And I knew right there, it's like, that's impressive that she's got her sense of humor to pull through this," Szakaly said.
Szakaly said ever since the incident he's been constantly thinking about Miko and felt they had to meet. Miko felt the same and given how quickly she felt well enough to meet they got that organized in just one week.
"It was a big relief for me (to meet Miko). It's difficult to explain how your heart is broken for somebody that you don't know, don't know their name, don't know anything about them, but I was thinking about her, I was worried for her every day. I was pretty grateful when I did hear from Amy, it gave me, it gave I think both of us the opportunity to put a little bit of closure on what had gone on there," he said.
Having had the chance to meet twice following the incident, Miko and Szakaly became fast friends, and Miko has been considering getting a tattoo to commemorate their friendship and Szakaly's role in the rescue. While she's not sure what exactly the tattoo will look like, she knows she wants barley to be involved, and is considering dirt, broken glass, and two hands reaching out and/or holding each other as well.
Regardless of what the future holds and what paths Szakaly and Miko go down, they both feel confident about one thing: "Friends for life."
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