Pricilla Dawson says the thought never crossed her mind that her situation was dire while she was on the ground outside during the storm last Wednesday night, unable to get up or attract help.
“I knew I wasn’t going to die... I was just going to be there awhile,” said the 83 year old Mount Shasta resident.
Unscathed, Pricilla was back at her Orem Street home yesterday afternoon talking about her “interesting experience.”
With no electricity and no heat on Jan. 20, Pricilla decided at 7 p.m. to walk to the Tree House, where she intended to stay the night and have a good meal.
She dressed in three warm layers for the journey. Carrying a bag of necessities and a ski pole, she started out from her house, down a narrow shoveled pathway to climb over the enormous berm onto the street.
“I just couldn’t believe all the fallen trees,” she said. “There was a telephone pole knocked down at Jimmy Cottini’s house on the corner, and there was debris everywhere. There was so much destruction, no one was using the road.”
As she was climbing over the massive berm, Pricilla said she slipped and fell backward onto the soft snow of the pathway.
“I couldn’t turn myself around. I couldn’t get my knees under me, and here I’m a dancer... I had knee surgery, you see. I couldn’t move... it was so strange. Every time I’d put my ski pole in the snow to try and pull myself out, it’d crumble. It was too soft.”
Pricilla said she just laid there, gazing up at the night sky.
“It was beautiful, with the snow softly falling,” she said. “It snowed, then it would rain, and my face got all wet. I saw [the constellation] Cassiopeia, but it finally moved. I think some cars must have gone by; I could see lights, but I couldn’t get their attention.”
Pricilla said she wasn’t overly concerned about her predicament. After all, she grew up in Iowa, where it snows much more than it does here.
“I knew something would happen and I’d be okay,” she said. “Then I must have dozed off, because when I finally looked at my watch, I couldn’t believe it was seven in the morning. My clothes were all wet, and that’s when I thought, okay, I’ve got to get out of here.”
Pricilla said she began waving her ski pole in the air to try to catch the attention of a passerby.
From his house on the corner, Jim Cottini saw something moving in Pricilla’s yard and sent a man who was walking by on his way to work at the Billy Goat Tavern to see what it was.
“The man, Kevin Young, found me,” Pricilla said. “From there, they called 9-1-1. Immediately four vehicles showed up. Those big firefighters picked me right up and took me straight to the emergency room. I got the best care possible.”
Pricilla said she spent two nights at Mercy Medical Center, where she was put through “every test imaginable” by her physician, Dr. Harvey Sternberg.
“First they wanted to see if I had a stroke, then they put wires on me to check my heart, then they thought my white blood cell count was high... that it was a reaction to the hypothermia. But it all turned up nothing... I’ve been completely examined,” she said.
The only after effects from her 12 hour ordeal that Pricilla is aware of is some slight tingling in her fingers caused by a touch of frostbite.
“I was saved by those three layers of clothing. I’m very fortunate that I’m physically in good condition. I’ve always been an athletic person,” she said.
After being released from the hospital on Saturday afternoon, Pricilla’s friend, June Fitzgerald, picked her up to stay at her house for a few days, where there was a wood stove for heat.
“Of course, by then, the power was back on,” Pricilla said.
As of Monday, Pricilla was comfortably back at home. She’s hired someone to remove the berm from her driveway.
“I’ve had so many calls from people all over the place who heard something happened to me. Of course, my children were hysterical. They wanted to come to the hospital, but I kept telling them that I’m fine.
“Now they want me to carry a cell phone, but I’m not a cell phone person. It’s just been an interesting experience.”
As for the power and destruction of the storm, Pricilla said she can’t remember anything like it in the 46 years she’s lived in the area.