Eight months pregnant and freezing, 23-year-old Lindsey Black huddled in the back seat of her car and watched a small rock chip on her windshield splinter across the whole window under the weight of several feet of drifting snow.
"That's when I thought I would die for sure buried alive," Black said on Thursday, the day after she was stranded at the side of the road in the winter storm that pounded parts of northern Utah.
Hours earlier, Black had been teaching her sixth-grade class at Renaissance Academy Charter School in Lehi, where her students had enjoyed mostly sunny recesses all day. At 3:25 p.m., she was well on her way home going west on state Route 92.
"Then like a bomb, it went off," she said. "I couldn't see two inches in front of my windshield."
She pushed on, encouraged by the glow of the red taillights of the car ahead of her.
When the guiding red lights slipped out of sight, she pulled over to wait it out for a few minutes. It was comfortable, but then minutes turned into hours. Her windshield wipers froze up and light dimmed.
The sun hadn't set, but stiff ground winds blew layers of snow up past her car windows, smothering her in its dark blue shadow.
After talking to her parents and husband on the cell phone, and after realizing weather conditions were not getting any better, her mother called police, Black said.
Officers were stretched thin attending to dozens of accidents and stranded motorists, but quickly rolled into action.
"It was basically a fiasco," said Lehi Police Sgt. Jeff Swenson about the conditions at the time of the call for help from Black's mother. "It was tough because she wasn't even sure where she was. She couldn't see anything."
Black rolled down her window enough to "punch" through the snow a couple of times. The holes relieved "panicky, claustrophobic feelings," but only a little.
However, snow got into the car when she rolled down her windows. Sitting under a drift of snow in the dark, she said she began to fret. She thought of the danger of carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Then, she said she started to feel trapped, barricaded by the snow. She started having contractions, every three to five minutes.
That's when she said she had two thoughts: "First, I'm going to die," she said. "And, second, I knew I was going to be stuck in the car with my dying baby, just fighting to keep it warm when I had it on my own."
She crawled in the back seat, curled up in her wet coat and sat in the silence staring at the growing crack on her windshield.
"It's all I could do," she said.
Over the phone, officers told her to listen for sirens, and poke her hands out the window.34 comments on this story
"It took a while for us to find her," said Swenson, who arrived to find two other men digging her out.
"I don't know who they were, but we couldn't have done it without them."
Police took Black to a gas station where she was treated. She was eventually taken to American Fork Hospital to be examined.
"The police were incredible," her father, Lance Blackwood, said. "We owe them so much."
Black and her unborn baby called Conner took Thursday to recover from her hypothermia."Those crazy guys did some crazy things to save me," she said. "I won't forget it."