A 67-year-old Centerville, Minn. woman survived for nearly a full day while trapped without heat in her partially submerged SUV. Nancy Breberg is alive, albeit with a nasty case of frostbite, and her family has a big thank you for the young man who helped rescue her.
"If anyone has any doubt about the power of prayer, come talk to me," said Ron Breberg, Nancy's husband.
Breberg still doesn't know how it happened -- how his 67-year-old wife, a diabetic with some mobility issues, survived for 18 hours trapped in her partially submerged SUV at the bottom of this drainage ditch in Plymouth.
"We waited all night. No word. No word," Breberg said.
Nancy Breberg lost control of the vehicle when she got turned around on her way from their Centerville home to a St. Louis Park hotel on Friday evening. The maroon Chevy Trailblazer slid down the embankment coming to rest on its side in shallow water.
With the doors locked, her cell phone submerged in water and authorities unable to trace her location, Nancy sat there frigid and trapped for nearly a full day.
"I was praying hard, but losing hope," her husband said.
Ron calls what happens next a near miracle, and calls Geoffrey Racette his hero.
"I did what anybody else would have done," said Racette. "It seems surreal. I don't feel I did anything special."
Racette was biking home from his work shift at a nearby grocery store on Saturday when his route took him right past Nancy Breberg's SUV. He ran down to see if anyone was inside.
"I believe the first thing she said was, 'Oh thank God,'" he said.
Racette would crawl into the vehicle to comfort Nancy. He gave her a much needed snack of Chex Mix, and called 9-1-1.
With his wife recovering in the intensive care unit, Ron Breberg used an afternoon news conference at HCMC to thank Geoffrey Racette personally.
"If you see this Geoffrey, thank you from the bottom of my heart," he said.
We took the grateful message straight to him.
"I want to be able to see them and see that she is okay," Racette said. "And I want to get that hug."
Nancy Breberg was sedated in intensive care Monday night. She was likely going to be on a ventilator to help her breathe for at least another day.
The biggest health issue she is facing though is probably frostbite. She has a nasty case of it on her feet after they sat dangling in icy water for some 18 hours. What's amazing is her husband and doctor said they expect her to make a full recovery.
It still remains to be seen whether it might have been her diabetes or another health issue that led to this harrowing ordeal.