CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) – Ashley Johnson is recovering after spending a harrowing night in a ravine off of the Anniston Eastern Bypass. Her rescue shut down traffic on the northbound lanes from Chocolocco Road to Iron Mountain Road as first responders pulled Johnson from her vehicle and airlifted her to UAB Hospital.
Her family first became aware that Johnson was missing around 3:45 Tuesday afternoon. “Her ex-husband called me and just told me that she had left his house and he had been trying to call her and couldn’t get in touch with her,” said her mother, Dara Cole. “So I started trying to call her and couldn’t get in touch with her.”
Cole said she had a bad feeling. Her daughter kept her phone on at all times. “I knew something was wrong,” she said. “I knew that if I couldn’t get her on her phone, something had happened.”
Exactly what led to the accident and what happened to Johnson in the hours prior to her rescue is still unclear. Cole said around 8:30 Wednesday morning, they got a call that their daughter had been found. She had called 911 herself and had guided first responders to her by the sound of their sirens. They didn’t know how badly she was injured.
“It was awful,” Cole said of watching from the road as her daughter was transported to the hospital. “Had she not called 911, they never would have found her.”
Cole said she wants to know why there wasn’t a guardrail that could have prevented her daughter’s car from going into the ravine. “I hope that this would encourage them, and if they would like to talk to my daughter and find out exactly what it was like laying there waiting on somebody to come and not getting any help, I’m sure she would.”
She and her husband also said they were overwhelmed with gratitude for the multiple agencies, including Sheriff Matthew Wade with Calhoun County, who helped find her daughter–from filing the report to helping to get her to the hospital.
Cole said that Ashley was eaten up by ants and ticks while she spent the evening in the ravine. She also has a punctured lung and dislocated hip. They anticipate that she will be in the hospital for the next few days.