Girl, 5, awarded bravery medal for helping save mom, brother after crash
Published Tuesday, November 3, 2015 8:10AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 3, 2015 8:05PM EST
The Shymanski family was a few hours into their drive home from a vacation in Sylvan Lake, Alta., last June, when Angela Shymanski fell asleep at the wheel, sending her car plunging down an embankment and smashing into a tree.
On Monday, her five-year-old daughter Alexis was awarded a bronze medal from the Royal Canadian Humane Society for her actions following the crash, making her the youngest Canadian civilian to have ever received the award.
"I'd put a CD with lullabies on it for the kids to fall sleep and… I felt my eyes shut for a second," Angela Shymanski told CTV Edmonton about the crash that knocked her unconscious.
Alexis woke up to the cries of her nine-week-old brother. When she couldn't wake her mother up, she managed to get out of her five-point harness – something she had only previously done a few times – and climb barefoot up the embankment where she flagged down passing cars.
She caught the attention of former firefighter Richard Nowicki, who climbed down the steep hill to help the family.
"It looked like the vehicle had rolled at least once, maybe twice," Nowicki said. "It was very steep and full of big boulders.
When emergency crews arrived to the scene, they tossed a rope down to Nowicki.
"That's how I climbed up," he said. "(Alexis) climbed up that bank in bare feet by herself."
The family was airlifted to an Edmonton hospital.
Shymanski suffered a broken back and extensive internal injuries. She had to be resuscitated twice. Her son suffered head injuries.
"We wouldn't be here, the baby or I, without (Alexis)," Shymanski said.
Alexis said she plans on bringing the medal to school for show-and-tell.
With a report from CTV Edmonton