The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 14, 2013

Minn. woman trapped in car on icy pond for 18 hours

PLYMOUTH — Nancy Breberg was lost, creeping along on slippery roads in search of a suburban hotel when her SUV slid off the road and down an embankment onto an icy pond. For the next 18 hours, the 67-year-old woman was trapped, praying for help as water seeped over her feet and temperatures plunged into the teens.

Breberg, a diabetic, might not have survived if a passing bicyclist hadn't spotted her vehicle's wheel sticking up through brush that made it difficult to see. When he went closer to investigate, he saw someone in a pink jacket moving inside. Then Breberg called out for help.

"She was pretty weak," bicyclist Geoffrey Racette told The Associated Press on Monday, as Breberg was recovering at a Minneapolis hospital. "She said that she wasn't able to get out of the car and was stuck in there. She couldn't crawl out the back."

Racette crawled through the back window and fed Breberg some Chex Mix he had been carrying on his ride. She pointed him to her bag of medication, which he retrieved and handed over to paramedics who soon arrived.

Breberg's husband, Ron Breberg, 66, of Centerville, said she was on a breathing tube, sedated and getting fluids Monday as part of the recovery process at Hennepin County Medical Center. But he said doctors don't think his wife will need skin grafts for her frostbitten feet and she has no broken bones or other serious injuries — she just needs time to heal.

"Things are going in the right direction, but it will take some time," he said, adding that his wife had improved to serious condition.

Ron Breberg said he was looking forward to getting time to call Racette and thank him for rescuing his wife.

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