Updated: 11/09/10 9:52 p.m.
LAKE VILLA, Ill. (CBS) – She survived the unthinkable when she was impaled by a tree. On Tuesday, the suburban woman is out of the hospital and thanking the paramedics who helped save her life. But she is also talking about those who left her for dead. CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports.
Helen Miller, of Lake Villa, is doing remarkably well. She is a survivor, and everyone from her doctors to the paramedics who rescued her, say her spunk and natural demeanor helped to save her life.
How many people can say an 80-pound limb crashed into their car, impaled them in the stomach and then they had the energy to sing a rap song to calm those trying to save her?
The art teacher has even saved a part of the branch for a school project.
“It came in through the roof like this and it came out right over here,” said Helen Miller, pointing to the branch that punctured her abdomen and went through it. “They get me onto the gurnee and put me into the ambulance. I tried to move it a little bit and they’re like, ‘no!’”
Miller was reunited with the crew that rushed in to save her life at her Lake Villa home Tuesday afternoon.
“Thank you for all your help,” Miller said as she hugged the paramedics who saved her.
Last month, when 50-mile per hour winds swept through the area, a massive tree in Lindenhurst toppled over onto Miller’s compact car as she was driving to work. She was taken to the hospital with the tree still stuck in her stomach.
“She was amazing. Her pulse never got above 70,” said Lake Villa paramedic Miles TenEyck. “She was in pretty good spirits throughout the whole thing. Upon arrival at the hospital, she was singing ‘Ice, Ice Baby.’”
“You guys looked so scared, I thought I’d give a little comic relief,” said Miller. “I did, for real.”
One of the most amazing things about Miller’s story: some people who drove up to the scene snapped pictures with their cell phones and then drove off, without assisting her.
A passerby eventually stopped to call 911, but only after others snapped pictures of the scene and drove away.
“I’m like, ‘help, help’ and they didn’t help,” said Miller. “They just rolled down the window, snapped a few pictures and kept on driving.”
“A couple people said, ‘do you need help?’ I’m thinking to myself, that’s a pretty stupid thing to ask. Obviously I have like a 20,000 pound tree on my stomach,” Miller added. “I honestly felt like I had bad Karma because I didn’t know what I did in my life to deserve someone to leave me to die.”
But Helen Miller is the same woman who bounced back from a two-month coma and heart problems last year. And the same woman whose elementary art students wrote her countless get well letters.
“Some people in my school, they actually said that I’m like their hero,” said Miller. “I said I don’t mean to be a hero. I just kind of am by accident.”
In the days following the crash, Miller received a registered letter with no return address. It was from one of the people who drove by and snapped a picture. She apologized, saying she left the scene because she thought Miller was dead.