OnStar helps a single mom make it home to her sons after a terrifying crash
Beth Johnson says her sons would be orphaned today if it weren’t for OnStar.
Southern Tennessee was in the throes of freezing cold temperatures in January, with icy roads and conditions that nearly paralyzed the usually temperate region. But Johnson, a medical assistant, was determined to make it into work; the single mother of two teenage boys was worried she’d lose her job if she didn’t.
So she set out the morning of Jan. 17 from her home in a rural, woodsy area. Snow had begun to fall about 36 hours prior, but the morning sunshine was melting it and Johnson assumed — incorrectly, as it turned out — the ice was dissipating, too.
“When I turned on the road, the ice was clear,” Johnson remembers. “As I headed down that road, I realized it was too icy to drive on, but there was no way to turn around, so I was just stuck on it.”
As Johnson went around a curve on the hilly road in her 2010 GMC Acadia, she slid to the left, went off the road and hit a hill that she says was “pretty much all mud.” She slid another 20 feet, then careened down a ravine at an angle. The fire department later told her they were only able to find her by following her tracks down the embankment.
“I kept waiting for the car to flip, but it never did. Finally, I hit a tree head-on and that’s what made me stop.”
“I kept hitting trees,” Johnson says. “I kept waiting for the car to flip, but it never did. Finally, I hit a tree head-on and that’s what made me stop.”
Immediately, an OnStar Advisor was speaking to her* through the Acadia’s OnStar audio system. Johnson was pinned. Outside it was 7 degrees; the temperature that day wasn’t expected to get above 10 degrees. Her cell phone was in her purse on the floor and well out of reach.
“It was so cold,” Johnson remembers. “The OnStar Advisor stayed on the line and kept me calm. It took about an hour before the fire department got there because the roads were so bad. Being in the medical field, I knew what to do; I’ve worked in trauma. But it’s different when you’re the one facing that — when you’re sitting there looking at trees and you can’t move because you’re stuck.”
OnStar Advisors can call loved ones on a Member’s behalf, and that’s exactly what the Advisor did for Johnson.
“She got my brother on the phone to talk to me — he’s a police officer about two hours from where I live. He told me he loved me and that everything was going to be OK,” Johnson recalls, choking up. “I was just so thankful, hearing someone tell me they love me in that situation. It calmed me down because I was thinking, what if they can’t find me? When I was able to hear my brother on the phone, that was the reassurance I needed to know everything was going to be OK.”
The fire department was able to reach Johnson, and about an hour and a half after her crash, she was freed from her vehicle. Johnson says she still has some pain in her hip, but she walked away from the crash without any bruises.
“OnStar saved my life that day because it was so cold and no one would have known what had happened to me until I didn’t come home that night,” she says. “I kept thinking, if it weren’t for them, would I see my kids again? I’m a single parent. My kids were so happy to know I was able to come home to them. And it was all because I had OnStar.”