Woman walks away from vehicle following 40-foot plunge into river

Friday night, 19-year-old Brittany Erding was driving around a curve on Highway 5 about an hour south of Rochester when her car spun out on the icy road, careened through some trees, then plunged over a cliff, 40 feet down into the Root River.

Somehow, Brittany walked away -- unhurt.

"I just remember falling off the cliff... and landing in the water," Erding says. "I've been sore for the past couple days but that's about it."

After her car landed tires-down on the icy river, Brittany climbed onto its roof and spent about 15 minutes trying to get a phone signal in hopes of figuring a way out of her predicament.

Eventually, she walked across ice chunks and made her way to the farmhouse next door.

Fillmore County Sheriff Tom Kaase points out that Brittany's story is a prime example of how seat belts save lives.

"I was pretty emotional the day after it happened," Brittany says. "The first night I couldn't sleep just thinking about what could have happened."

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