DEERFIELD BEACH (CBSMiami) –
Those who know and love 3-year-old Aubrey Herndon cannot imagine life without her.
Thanks to the quick-thinking, life-saving efforts of Good Samaritans, first responders and medical personnel, they won’t have to.
On December 23rd, the car Aubrey was riding in with her mom and dad crossed three lanes of traffic on I-95 in Deerfield Beach, crashed through a fence and went into a canal.
Her father survived, but her mother, Cindy Hutchinson, died and Aubrey spent at least four to five minutes underwater.
“It was very, very tough,” said Vicki Hutchinson, Aubrey’s grandmother.
Aubrey’s grandmother said the child spent several days in a coma. Then she came to.
“We feel that it was a real Christmas miracle,” she said. “She didn’t have much hope and you can see now. We feel like her mom had something to do with it.”
The family believes that Aubrey’s mom watched over her daughter from above and within days, Aubrey appeared back to her old self.
A home video taken in the hospital shows Aubrey playfully bantering with her grandmother.
“She’s perfectly fine,” said her grandfather, Henry Hutchinson. “She’s walking fine. All the results came out fine. It’s like nothing ever happened to her.”
Aubrey left Broward Health Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon in the arms of one of her rescuers, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue First Responder Brian Baker.
“It’s an absolute miracle what happened,” Baker said. “I can’t explain it any other way. It’s an absolute miracle. I’m excited, emotional and relieved.”
Her rescuers pitched in to get her a new car seat and some Christmas gifts.
But the biggest gift is Aubrey herself.
Her family is grateful to the first responders and especially to the nearly two-dozen Good Samaritans who arrived seconds after the accident and helped to free Aubrey, giving her a second chance at life.
“We owe our lives to them,” said Vicki Hutchinson.
Aubrey’s family says she asked once about her mother early on after the crash but not since.
They said they plan to be as honest as possible with her about what happened and they will tell her how much her mother loved her and her sisters.