Teen making 'miracle' recovery after crash with moose

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Recovering in a hospital bed after breaking nearly every bone in her face, family members say Amaya Nelson is doing as well as can be expected. 

"It's kind of scary, kind of overwhelming, kind of happy - all at the same time because she's alive and that's all that matters," said Scott Nelson, Amaya’s father.

Amaya Nelson and her boyfriend, Remington Dellinger, were on their way from Hoyt Lakes, about 250 miles north of the Twin Cities, to her father's house in Two Harbors late at night on July 7. They turned a corner in the road and saw a moose standing in the middle of the street.

Amaya's Dodge Neon struck the 1400-pound animal, rolling the moose onto her hood and crushing her roof. The impact sent her car into a 20-foot ravine, where she and her boyfriend had to climb out the passenger side door and claw their way up the hill before calling 911.

"I honestly didn't know it was a moose until after we were in the ambulance and they said it was a moose,” said Dellinger. “I thought the devil had come through the windshield and was coming to get us."

Paramedics rushed Nelson to St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth, where she underwent a 10-hour facial reconstruction surgery. Doctors also put in a tube to help her breathe. Amaya is able to walk and talk a little and remembers everything about the accident. 

"I grabbed her hand and told her everything was going to be okay,” said Dellinger. “We didn't process everything that happened until the next couple of days. Even now still looking back at it and going through what happened, it is still difficult to relive that."

Amaya's father it's no surprise she had the strength to survive her close encounter with the moose. He believes she had some help from a higher power on that dark road on that fateful night.

"I do body work and have fixed a lot of smashed cars that have hit deer and hit moose,” said Scott Nelson. “I've seen cars that got smashed less than this and the people died so I believe this was a miracle."

Doctors say it could take up to a year, but Amaya should make a full recovery. Her family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help cover the costs of taking time off work to care for her and to buy her a sturdier car once she gets home.