Minneapolis woman who survived horrific car crash meets with crew who saved her life

A young Minneapolis woman, who overcame a rare form of cancer, visited with the crew who saved her life Monday. However, this wasn't to visit the doctors who helped her battle cancer, but the team that saved her life after she was hit by a vehicle while crossing the street in Uptown a year ago and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Anya Magnuson returned to Hennepin County Medical Center on Monday, one year after a frightening pedestrian crash in Uptown nearly killed her, to thank the medical care team that saved her life.

"It's been one year since my life was destroyed," Magnuson said during prepared remarks thanking her care team. "Although I don't remember much about HCMC or those who took care of me. I want you to know that I really appreciate everyone's work."

Anya’s parents recalled rushing to the hospital and seeing her in the emergency room hooked up to all sorts of tubes and machines.

"We were told to spend as much time with Anya as you want," Jeff Magnuson recalls. "And she looked like that was going to be the last time we're going to see her."

Anya was struck by a speeding SUV driver and thrown some 40 feet in the air. She suffered a traumatic brain injury; her body, shattered. She had fractures to her skull, pelvis, legs and face.

"I was on a ventilator for 16 days, but I am not dead," said Anya.

Today, Anya is very much alive. In fact, the fiercely independent and strong young woman who had already overcome a rare, deadly cancer before the crash never gave up despite daunting obstacles.

The now 24-year-old attacked her rehab and therapies, wowing her care team every step of the way – rock climbing soon after leaving the hospital.

"So seeing all of Anya’s hard work and her passion to truly get better," said physical therapist Megan Meyer. "That's the thing is, Anya ... her personality and her drive and her determination and her ability to just say, 'I'm going to make improvements, I'm going to live on my own.'"

Anya is now living on her own with some assistance from her mom and dad. She has returned to a beloved job at a Minneapolis Brazilian steakhouse and volunteers at an area food pantry. She understands the traumatic brain injury has stolen so much, and she isn’t the same person she was before the crash.

"I mean, I would honestly be fine if I never saw HCMC again," Magnuson joked. "But you know it, it's good to be here."

She hasn’t lost her sarcasm and really wanted to return to thank her medical miracle team for all they did.

"I've lost many things since the crash – my jobs, my ability to drive, my financial security, and, most importantly, my independence. I've always been fiercely independent," Magnuson said during her remarks in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at HCMC. "Adjusting to what the traumatic brain injury has done to me has been and continues to be super difficult, almost overwhelming at times. I do know that I wouldn't be here, but with the support of dozens of members of medical caregiving and therapy teams, along with the continued support of friends and family."

Anya’s visit ended with a special presentation from the Hennepin Health EMS crew that first tended to her along Hennepin Avenue. She and her parents were awarded a special "Challenge coin" from Battalion Chief Michael Trullinger.

"What a challenge coin is – the short version is these guys did good by you and this challenges you and reminds you to try to go out and return that by doing good somewhere and maybe passing it along to someone else," Trullinger explained as he handed over a pair of coins to Anya and her parents. "It says, hearts of gold, minds of steel.

"I'm trying to remain hopeful that even more improvements are to come," Anya says.

Her next goal on her road to recovery is driving, with everyone here cheering her every step of the way.

"It's just a joy to be able to be here and see all the people that have supported Anya that have made this possible," said her dad, "for her to move from almost a cadaver lying on the gurney to now a lively young woman, making jokes and rejoicing in the life she has."

If you want to follow Anya's recovery journey, you can click here to see her CaringBridge website.