Plane Crash Survivor Stephanie Nielson
In the summer of 2008 Stephanie Nielson 27, was living a picture-perfect life, married to the man of her dreams and raising four beautiful children. On August 16 that all came crashing down, when a horrible plane crash nearly cost them their lives and changed them forever. In her inspiring memoir, HEAVEN IS HERE, Stephanie explores how, in the wake of this tragedy, she beat the odds of surviving and came to embrace the power of love, motherhood, community, faith and the simple joys of everyday life.
Before the accident Stephanie was an avid runner, skier, blogger and yoga instructor (and of course wife and mother). On that fateful day in August, Stephanie joined her husband Christian for a ride in the Arizona sky. They crashed and after a death-defying crawl out of molten airplane wreckage her face was destroyed and burns covered more than 80 percent of her body. (Christian suffered a broken back and burns over 40 percent of his body). She was airlifted to Arizona Burn Center in Phoenix and medically induced into a coma that lasted for nearly three months as doctors worked desperately to keep her alive. She subsequently underwent dozens of surgeries, physical therapy and constant medical supervision. She battled through months of pain and despair (“I lost my sense of who I was…I felt I had nothing.”) But she again found joy in the simple things and discovered what really made life worth living. (“I am a better person because of this” she now says.)
In 2005 Stephanie started posting updates about funny, poignant moments with her kids and by the time of the crash had a following of 150,000. It was Christian who urged Stephanie to sit down at her computer again after the crash (“AC” as she and Christian call it). Typing torturously with aching, bandaged fingers, she wrote about pain and loss but also about small things that filled her with happiness. Hundreds of messages of support came in from blog fans. And while doctors said that with accidents like this, divorce usually follows, Christian patiently wooed his wife. These days she’s back to doing art projects with her kids, hiking and skiing and sharing life’s small moments with, now, many more thousands of followers. And this spring she and her husband welcomed another baby girl-- Charlotte Nielson--into their family.