Three British Columbians are happy to be reunited almost a year after tragic circumstances first brought them together.
Last summer when Katie Potts was seriously injured in a horrific crash on the Coquihalla Highway, a Salmon Arm, B.C. couple stopped to help.
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In the aftermath, the rescuers didn’t know Potts’ name and were left wondering if she had survived.
However, in June, almost a year after the collision that nearly took her life, Potts was able to find the couple she believes saved her.
It all started on the morning of July 11, 2021 when Potts and her boyfriend were returning home from a camping trip. Their vehicle went off the road near Larson Hill and Potts along with her seat were ejected from the vehicle.
“My boyfriend fell asleep behind the wheel and from what I remember I was also asleep and then I woke up and I was in the grass,” said Potts, during an interview from her home in Maple Ridge.
“It was just a really scary feeling. I looked down. I saw that my leg was amputated at the scene. My hand felt pretty wet like it was in a puddle or something and I ended up losing three fingers.”
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Only later would Potts learn she also had injured her back.
“It was really scary, the doctor told my dad he wasn’t too sure if I was ever going to be able to walk again because of the damage on my back. I was three millimeters from being paralyzed,” she said.
Potts said her boyfriend picked her up and brought her up to the highway.
“We were waving down cars trying to get people’s attention the best we could and there was probably about five to seven cars that passed us, didn’t even take a glance or whatever, until Marilyn and Jarrod were the ones who stopped,” recalled Potts.
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Marilyn and Jarrod Thomas were on the way to Vancouver to see their daughter that morning when they saw smoke near the highway.
“A young fellow was waving his arms so we pulled over. Didn’t even know that there was another person there until he had thrown her into the back seat of my car,” said Jarrod Thomas.
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Feeling faint, like she was dying, Potts said she called out for her boyfriend.
“Jarrod took out his hoody string right away as soon as I said, ‘I feel like I’m going to die!’ He ripped out his hoody string and then tied off my leg, and then my boyfriend grabbed his hoody string and tied off my hand to stop all the bleeding,” Potts said.
Marilyn Thomas said she tried to wet the young woman’s lips to make sure she wasn’t dehydrated.
“You just go to work and you just say, ‘Well, now we have to take care of her and do whatever we can,’” Marilyn Thomas said.
When first responders arrived Potts was taken for medical care and Marilyn and Jarrod Thomas were left worrying about what happened to the seriously injured young woman whose name they didn’t know.
They wondered if she had made it.
“We tried to find out about this accident on the highway and we couldn’t find out anything,” Marilyn Thomas said.
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Potts was also thinking about the couple that had stopped to help.
“I wouldn’t be here today if they wouldn’t have stopped because [of] the time that the ambulance came and when I said to everybody, ‘I feel like I am going to die!’….They wouldn’t have been there in time because I would have lost way too much blood,” Potts said.
In June, almost a year after the crash, Potts was able to find the pair she credits with saving her life thanks to a viral social media post by a family friend.
“She made a huge post and it just went viral. I didn’t expect it but I am so thankful to everyone who did this for me because it gives me a lot of closure to finally know what and who I am living for. It is for them,” Potts said.
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They’ve spoken on the phone and Potts hopes to visit the couple later this summer.
“As soon as I heard her voice, I just started breaking down into tears,” Potts said of speaking with Marilyn Thomas.
The rescuers were equally happy to find out Potts had survived and is recovering.
“She is so brave and just so resilient. She is just a wonderful young lady,” said Marilyn Thomas.
“We are no guardian angels. We are no heroes. We are just regular people who did anything that any regular people should be doing and that’s stopping and helping.”
Despite her doctor’s concerns, Potts is walking again and after getting her first prosthetic water leg she is looking forward to swimming with her niece.
“If it wasn’t for Marylin and Jarrod, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy these little things. Every morning I just wake up and I say thank you to them,” Potts said.
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