For Jennifer Moser, Sept. 2, 2016, started like any other day. The 27-year-old went to work teaching art to elementary school students in Brookings and then left town for the weekend to visit family in Miller, South Dakota.
She only made it 10 miles when a car crossed the center line and hit Moser’s vehicle head on. The crash took the lives of the other driver and a 4-year-old passenger.
Moser survived but sustained many life-threatening injuries. She was transported to the Brookings, South Dakota, hospital by ambulance and then to Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, by Sanford AirMed.
Moser doesn’t remember any of that. She doesn’t remember her normal day teaching art, seeing the car cross the center line or flying 160 miles-per-hour in a helicopter.
But she does remember the names of the people she calls her angels: Sanford AirMed pilot Paul Haverhals, paramedic Paul Mathiason, trauma surgeon Paul Bjordahl and countless other caregivers.
“They saved my life,” Moser said. “I really think God put them on duty that day, so they could come and save me.”
Once in Sioux Falls, the Sanford Health trauma team rushed Moser into surgery to control internal bleeding and repair damage to her liver. Over the following weeks and months, Moser underwent 13 more surgeries, repairing additional damage and several broken bones.
“I loved Sanford,” Moser said. “I had the best doctors and surgeons in the world. They are my heroes, and their names are sacred in our household.”
Moser spent nearly two months in the hospital recovering from her injuries and then starting physical therapy. During that time, she could see the AirMed helicopter pad from her hospital window. Her dad would turn her bed, so she could watch the team take off and pray for the people they were going to help. Both Moser and her father have had pilot’s licenses for several years and are passionate about aviation.
“I will always have a special place in my heart for Sanford AirMed,” Moser said. “They are such angels and perform miracles every day.”
Prior to her accident, Moser worked out often, weight training, swimming, running and practicing yoga. Today she is close to being back to her active lifestyle teaching, doing Crossfit and loving life.
“I was really blessed and gained so much back so quickly,” Moser said. “I am so grateful for that.”
Sanford Health Foundation recently featured Moser’s story.