During this holiday season, a local family has a miraculous tale of survival and healing to celebrate. Kim Johnson of Granite Falls and her family are celebrating her recovery after a severe accident earlier this year.

During this holiday season, a local family has a miraculous tale of survival and healing to celebrate. Kim Johnson of Granite Falls and her family are celebrating her recovery after a severe accident earlier this year.

On September 6, Kim Johnson was driving a Dodge Durango towards Hutchinson on Highway 15. Johnson pulled the Durango over between Glencoe and Hutchinson to check the safety chains on a U-Haul trailer that she was towing behind the SUV.

Fateful moments later, a Chevrolet Silverado driven by Johnson’s nephew accidentally collided into the back of the trailer with Johnson directly in between the trailer and the Durango.

According to Johnson, “I think it must have squished me kind of like a zit and popped me down into the ditch.”

Thanks to OnStar, an onboard alert software for vehicles, Johnson was able to receive medical attention after the freak accident. According to her, there was no cell service in the area as her passenger tried to call for help. However, the OnStar system picked up the yelling of her passenger and alerted emergency services.

The accident left Johnson in critical condition. She stated that she had one pint of blood left after the accident. The human body usually contains an average of ten pints and one pint is what is often given during typical blood donations.

Johnson was transported to  the Glencoe Hospital, where she was later sent to Hennepin County Medical Center. According to Johnson, she was placed in a coma for a few days, which she theorized was induced for pain control. When she woke up, she became aware of the immense extent of her injuries.

“I didn’t know what had happened. I kind of looked down and I saw all these casts and braces and when the doctor came in I asked  , ‘How many bones did I break?’ and he looked at me and goes ‘We quit counting.’”

With so many broken bones that the doctors had stopped counting, Johnson was in rough shape but she was alive. According to Johnson, her extensive injuries included damage to her right shoulder, left  elbow, back ribs, left side of pelvis, left femur, right knee, fibula, tibia, both feet,  multiple toes, and she sustained lung punctures. Despite her extensive injuries, she managed to not have a scratch on her face.                 

Johnson stayed at HCMC for a month before she was sent to a nursing home in Balaton for rehabilitation from her injuries. At Balaton, she stated that she received top notch care.               

“They were the best rehab I  could have ever asked for. The women there were awesome, the staff there was amazing, not only did they help me with rehab. They were an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. “
Johnson was recently released from Balaton, she has been staying at her parent’s place as she heals and grows stronger.

Guardian angel lends her wings
Despite the severity of the accident, Johnson is home for the holidays and making strides towards recovery. However, this miraculous tale of survival would not be complete without mentioning Johnson’s guardian angel: her niece Kailey Olson.
Olson, who Johnson refered to as her ‘mini-me’, had lost her life during a car accident in August of 2011. She had passed away in the accident at the intersection of Highway 19 and Redwood County Road 8 South. Olson had graduated from YME earlier that year and was set to attend Oral Roberts University.

After Olson’s death, Johnson kept  a memorial bracelet with her. The bracelet had the phrase, ‘Painters paint on canvas, but we paint on silence.’ This bracelet just so happened to stick with Johnson throughout her rough accident.

 “It was the only thing I was wearing that I got back from the accident. I know that brought a lot of tears from my brother because that’s his daughter, and we kind of think that she’s watching out for me.”

Johnson believed that Olson was looking out for her and her family. “I don’t think she was ready to let me come up there, I still had to raise another little one, you know. Another little mini me.”

Johnson’s other ‘mini-me’ is her daughter  Lydia.   Lydia, along with her brother Mason, gave Johnson the strength to pull through the pain of her injuries.               

 “I’m very, very lucky to be alive, very glad to be alive. When I first woke up I wasn’t, because I figured that I would have no quality of life. How would I have held my kids? Because I’ve got two small kids and they’re my life.”

With her children as her motivation, Johnson has been working hard to regain her life.  During her rehabilitation at Balaton, Johnson defied all medical odds and made literal steps towards healing.

“They said I would never walk, they said there was no weight bearing on my feet and my one arm. And I proved them wrong and I started walking about two weeks ago,” she explained

According Johnson,  the staff encouraged her by saying, “It’s up to you whether or not you want to walk. The doctors can tell you, absolutely not, that you’re not going to walk. But if you want to, you can.”

After hard work and taking her healing day-by-day and step-by-step, Johnson is now able to walk with the assistance of a walker and has a  better quality of life than was  expected.

She is currently working through physical therapy to gradually help her grow stronger and to increase her mobility. As painful as the rehabilitation, Johnson is still pushing forward with the wings of her guardian angel to guide her.
She stated, “I’m very thankful here and I know that I had an angel looking out for me up there.”