A devastating car accident in August that almost killed a woman from Mitchell, Man., has turned her into a viral TikTok star.
Brianna Seewald has been sharing her lengthy recovery on the social media platform, netting her over 170,000 followers.
The incident, which left her with a fractured neck, back, and broken ribs, took place Aug. 17 at a notoriously dangerous intersection near Ste. Anne, Man.
“I remember everything about the crash — I never lost consciousness — so I literally watched in slow-motion … as this vehicle pulled out in front of me,” Seewald, who is still in a wheelchair, told 680 CJOB.
“I didn’t even have time to react, and before I knew it, my car was completely stopped, but my dash was pushed into me.”
Seewald, a nurse in rural Manitoba, said her life was saved by a bystander named John Hill, whom she still hasn’t been able to properly meet in person since the accident, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“He was a bystander to my accident, and moments after my accident I really thought that was it for me. I can remember looking up at my broken windshield, praying to my grandfathers, ‘please don’t let me die here,’ … and literally as I said that, this man got into my vehicle and never once lost composure. He was so kind and so calm.
“He just walked me through literally everything. … He was there until the moment when they extricated me out of my car.
“They told me if he wouldn’t have been there, I probably would have either had a massive stroke from the dissected artery in my neck — had I kept trying to move around and get out of my car — or I would have severed my spinal cord completely, resulting in quadriplegia.”
Seewald said that thanks to some online sleuthing by friends and family, her good samaritan was tracked down, and while she’s had conversations with him over text, she’s looking forward to the day when she can meet him in person — under different circumstances than their first encounter.
“It will be an emotional experience. He is a very humble person and I don’t think he realizes everything he’s done for me up until today,” she said.
Hill told Global News he was heading to get groceries in Steinbach when he happened upon the crash, and that his own experience with a broken neck after a motorcycle accident 10 years ago helped him recognize the signs and know how to safely help Seewald.
“I got in the rear door and I went inside and I introduced myself,” he said.
“I knew right away, because of the speed of the accident, there could be an issue with her neck, so I held her head and talked to her while I was doing it.
“It touches my heart, I guess. During the time I was holding her head, she couldn’t see it but I did have tears in my eyes for her knowing her journey had just begun in healing.”
Hill’s involvement in the story has, of course, contributed to its popularity online, as has a bit of good news for Seewald — a bedside proposal from now-fiance Ryan Borkowsky.
“He proposed to me while we were in the hospital, and we’ve turned this story from something that was very tragic into something positive.”
Borkowsky told Global News that it wasn’t the place and time he originally planned to propose, but circumstances made it the right choice.
“We were going to go to Disneyworld. — We were going to do it at the Titanic museum, because she loves Titanic — but COVID happened so that got cancelled,” he said.
“Then I was going to do it at the (Manitoba Museum), but things kept happening … so I thought, there isn’t a perfect time for anything — I wanted to make sure she’s my wife.”
Seewald said the appeal of her story on TikTok is that she’s been able to include humour into an otherwise dark, serious situation.
“I wanted to show people that even in dark times, you can be your own light — and if it means making a joke out of your own self, it’s OK to do it.
“People feel in love with that, I think. TikTok gave me the platform just to be my usual crazy self and I think people just loved it.”