FAIRPLAY, Colo. - Kristin Hopkins wrote pleas for help on a red-and-white umbrella that she managed to push through a broken window of her crashed car and open, hoping to attract the attention of drivers on a scenic highway above.
Still, it was five days before someone spotted the flipped car 80 feet down an embankment on U.S. Highway 285 in a Colorado aspen grove.
Authorities said people driving Sunday over the high spot overlooking the sprawling ranch lands and surrounding mountains of the South Park area hiked down and alerted authorities that they thought there was a body inside the car, but rescuers later found Hopkins alive, conscious and coherent but critically injured and extremely dehydrated.
Hopkins, a 43-year-old single mother of four, was flown by helicopter to St. Anthony Hospital in suburban Denver, Park County Undersheriff Monte Gore said.
Her family issued a statement Monday afternoon saying she will lose both her feet because of injuries sustained in the crash and is expected to survive.
Hopkins drove off the roadway near the old mining town of Fairplay sometime after she was last seen on April 27. The accident occurred beneath a spot overlooking the sprawling ranchlands and surrounding mountains of Colorado's South Park area.
Hopkins was entered into a statewide police database as a missing person but since she is an adult and there were no indications of foul play, there was no active search for her.
Authorities told CBS Denver there were no skid marks on the roadway from the crash and that the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu landed in an area where it was hidden from traffic. Investigators said they believe the car rolled many times before stopping in an aspen grove.
The firefighters who rescued her initially thought they were on a recovery mission. When they arrived at the car, firefighter Jim Cravener asked a colleague to break a window and feel for a pulse.
"He started to break the window and she put her hand up to the window," he said. "At that point, it became a rescue."
Cravener said Hopkins' notes on the umbrella were hard to make out, but appeared to say, "six days, no food, no water; please help me; and need a doctor."
"It's really something off that 'Shouldn't Be Alive' show," Cravener said. "She really had a strong will to survive."