Crash survivor: 'I was just so extremely thankful to be alive'

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- A Whatcom County car crash survivor feels like a walking miracle after living through what likely should have been a fatal accident.

Erin Brun somehow avoided two blows to the head last Tuesday when a huge bundle of wood poles shot through her windshield and skewered the passenger compartment.

She was driving behind a station wagon pulling a trailer full of 27-foot long "Tipi poles" along the Mount Baker Highway. The station wagon slowed for a turning car and Brun crashed into the back of the trailer, sending dozens of the poles through her windshield and out the rear window.

"I was just so extremely thankful to be alive, thankful that I could still move my body, that I was not paralyzed," Brun said.

As the poles flew toward her face, Brun has a split second to move her head a few inches to one side.

"It must have been a reflex action," she said. "That's the only way i can comprehend it."

Washington State Patrol trooper Bob Wilson had just responded to a fatal crash earlier that morning when he pulled up to Brun's wrecked car near the town of Deming.

"I thought it was going to be a fatal," Wilson said.

By the time he arrived, somebody had already pulled Brun from the wreckage. Wilson said the sight was shocking.

"On the very end of the poles, the rear-view mirror was out here. It was just, I was shocked," he said.

But Brun didn't make it out completely unscathed. A shard of wood peeled off one of the poles and stopped just short of piercing her brain.

"Which means my head was broken and that wooden stake was in my head," Brun said.

Brun said the near-death experience gave her a new lease on life.

"I have so much to live for," she said. "It's the people, the people that matter in your life. That's what it comes down to."