Woman returns home from hospital after surviving harrowing canyon crash, suffering frostbite

Woman climbed about 1,500 feet up canyon wall

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A woman who made an agonizing escape and suffered frostbite after her SUV ran off the road unnoticed into a canyon has been released from the hospital.

Sandy Mileto’s ordeal began when she was was driving on Colorado Highway 67 headed to Cripple Creek near Colorado Springs when her Jeep apparently hit a patch of black ice and ran off the road on the night of April 23.

It took Mileto several hours to scramble up about 1,500 feet out of the snowy canyon to be rescued. She emerged bruised and frostbitten.

Doctors told Mileto, 43, that the front part of her foot would need to be amputated, but she learned Wednesday that she would be able to keep all of her fingers and toes, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. She was sent home Friday.

“Right now, I'm going home with 10 fingers and 10 toes,” Mileto told the newspaper Friday. “It's a miracle.”

“I told them I didn't climb that slope for five hours just to lose my foot,” Mileto told the newspaper.

Mileto had nine, 90-minute sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which bombards wounds with high-pressure oxygen to help heal and revive the damaged tissue, according to the newspaper.

Although doctors are optimistic, Mileto told the newspaper there’s still a chance she could lose the big toe on her left foot. She says it’s up to her to make sure she keeps the toe.

A DEATH-DEFYING ESCAPE

On the night of the crash, Mileto’s Jeep ran off the road, mowed down several aspens, jumped a set of 10-foot tall boulders and left long skid mark for another 50 feet to 100 feet before getting launched again, dropping another 25 feet.

Mileto was knocked unconscious in the crash.

"I have no knowledge of what happened at all," she said.

When she woke up, Mileto was missing a left shoe and had only a blanket to keep her warm.

"It was a moment of life or death - what am I going to do: sit down here and freeze or try to take matters into my own hands," she said.

She pulled herself out of the wreck and struggled to call for help on her cellphone, but she had no signal.

When she tried to make a fire to keep herself warm, gasoline from the Jeep’s tank caught fire, and the whole vehicle burst into flames. The shoeless woman spent the next agonizing few hours climbing a few hundred feet up and over snow-covered rocks and icy gravel, back to the road.

"It was life or death," Mileto told 7NEWS. "I had to decide: How am I going to muster the strength to get up this hill? I didn't see any lights, hear any cars."

"Every step I took was horrific, dangerous," she said. "I was frozen, by then I had lost my shoe on my right foot."

She finally made it up to the highway and waved her blanket when she saw headlights approaching.

A man driving a camper and a Teller County Sheriff’s deputy in his patrol vehicle rescued her, and she was taken to the hospital.

Overnight temperatures were close to zero degrees Tuesday night when Mileto was stranded in the canyon.