Highlands Ranch

Family of crash survivor 'grateful'

Woman's father: 'We have so many questions'

By Hannah Garcia
Posted
Highlands Ranch resident Kristin Hopkins was found trapped in her car May 4 off US 285 a week afer she went missing. Hopkins is recovering in St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood.

A Highlands Ranch mother is still in critical condition after surviving several days in the wreckage of her crashed car, forcing doctors to amputate both of her feet.

Meanwhile, Kristin M. Hopkins' family is wondering how she ended up in Park County in the first place.

"We have so many questions, you know, 'why were you out there?' " said Glen Morgan. "To our knowledge, she doesn't know anyone in Park County, never talked about that area. We don't why she was over there."

Hopkins survived to see age 44 after she was found barely alive on May 4 in the mangled remains of her red Chevrolet Malibu, which ran off of the right side of a mountain pass north of Fairplay before hitting several trees and rolling down an 80-foot embankment, landing on its top.

Her birthday was May 8.

Hopkins was found five days after her parents reported her missing to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. Her father said he and his wife "scoured" Douglas County after she failed to pick up her children from her ex-husband's house on April 29.

"We had no idea specifically where she disappeared," Morgan said. "We called her and it went straight to voicemail and we started thinking, 'this is really odd.' She loves her kids. She would never forget to pick them up."

The mother of four works two jobs and was supposed to be off work on the day she went missing. Morgan said he and his wife Connie last saw their daughter on April 27 after she had returned home from work.

"It was like she vanished," he said.

Trapped for days

Morgan said that while she was trapped with her ankles crushed, Hopkins attempted to signal for help by writing "Call 911, Jaws of Life" on the back of a parking placard and scrawling desperate pleas with a black marker on an umbrella her mother bought for her two years ago. She smashed the car window to shove the umbrella outside, he said.

"The car was so smashed that she couldn't get out," he said. "Each of the words, it's scribbled. You can tell she was in and out of consciousness."

Her father said he couldn't imagine what was going through his daughter's mind during those days she was trapped, upside down, in her car without food, water or anyone to help her.

"But she was thinking or planning something," he said.

Park County Undersheriff Monte Gore said Hopkins was found by a Fairplay couple, Andy and Hope Lombard, who spotted a glint from the wrecked car while driving. The couple believed that Hopkins was dead when they found the car, according to Gore. While police were attempting to recover Hopkins from the car, the severely wounded woman put her hand on a window, according to her father. 

"That's when they realized that this was a rescue, not a recovery," Morgan said.

A mystery and a 'miracle'

A few days after Hopkins was rescued, the Morgans drove out to the site of the crash and said they saw no skid marks.

"We stopped the car, it was like driving straight. Then there was this curve, and she didn't curve," Morgan said. "Anyone who drove that highway, there's no indication that anything went wrong."

Deputies who found the missing woman said they couldn't believe she was still alive. Investigators found her car battery 30 feet away from the vehicle.

"No one can believe that, No. 1, she's alive at all and then the number of days she was compacted in that car without food or without water," Morgan said. "The impact had that much volatility. It's a miracle that she's alive."

"We don't know anything. My wife said half of her wants to know (what happened) and the other half doesn't."

Hopkins began speaking a few days after she was brought to the hospital, although she is difficult to understand and can't remember details about the accident.

"When she's ready, she'll let people know," Morgan said.

Reunited and recovering

When they received the call that their daughter was found and airlifted to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, Morgan said he and his wife Connie felt "euphoria but real concern."

Hopkins was airlifted to St. Anthony, where doctors had to amputate both of her feet the day after she was rescued, according to the family. Still in critical condition, trauma surgeons removed "dead tissue" during another surgery on May 9 and scheduled another surgery for two days later. She could be in the hospital for weeks, her father said.

Morgan said that when they finally saw their daughter at the hospital, she was "barely recognizable" because of the trauma to her body and face. Doctors said Hopkins suffered brain trauma and memory loss on top of a broken nose, fractured cheekbone, a lacerated liver and spleen, failing kidneys, five broken ribs and crushed ankles.

Hopkins has been wanting to see her four children, but has not been able to, he said.

The family set up a fund for the injured woman. Donations can be made to the Kristin Hopkins Donation Fund at any Chase Bank location.

"Everyone has been so nice, it's unbelievable," he said. "We were very grateful of the folks that found her. So grateful."