Family

Real life: I shielded my baby from a hail storm

My only thought was trying to save my baby.

By As told to Take 5

Fiona Simpson, 23, from Kingaroy, Queensland shares her story:

Walking out of the doctors with my four-month-old baby, Clara, I glanced up at the sky and breathed a sigh of relief.

Looks like the rain's finally on its way, I thought.

My parents Ros and Ernie are farmers and had been devastated by the droughts.

We'd all spent months hoping for the weather to turn.

I'd just popped into town so Clara could have her jabs.

My grandma Val, 78, had joined us and had gone shopping during our appointment.

After picking her up, we got back in the car and started the 20-minute drive back home when it started to shower lightly.

"At last!" Grandma sighed.

But the misty spray soon grew heavier.

With the water pelting from the sky, I turned the windscreen wipers on.

Minutes later it was pouring so much that I could barely see where I was going so I decided to wait it out and pulled over to the side of the road, putting my hazard lights on.

A few other cars did the same.

Peering round to check on Clara, I saw she was fast asleep.

The rain had now turned to hail and was pelting down so loudly that Grandma and I couldn't even hear each other talking.

Me, Brett and our little girl.
Me, Brett and our little girl.

Suddenly, I heard a big bang, waking Clara from her sleep.

She started screaming as a gush of cold wind pushed through the car.

I spun round and noticed the window was suddenly open.

I tried frantically to wind it up using the button near me, but nothing happened.

Hail was being blown in on Clara.

I climbed over to the back seat and saw the whole window had been blown out.

As more chunks of ice pelted into the car, I covered Clara's body with my own. I was wearing just a singlet and jeans, which was no match for the hail thrashing my back.

All I cared about was protecting my baby.

As Clara screamed, I fumbled with her seatbelt, desperately trying to open it, but my hands were so frozen I couldn't unclick it.

A hail stone the size of a sugar lump sent my glasses flying.

Seconds later I managed to pull Clara out from the straps and into my chest.

Crack!

Grandma's window had also gone.

I tried to get back to the front of the car with Clara, but my ankle was stuck on Grandma's wheelie walker.

The storm did some serious damage to my car.
The storm did some serious damage to my car.

The noise was overwhelming, like machine gun fire.

As I freed my foot, my shoes fell off but I somehow manged to put Clara down by the pedals in front of the driver's seat and leant over her as the pounding continued.

The hailstones hitting my back were the size of tennis balls.

The pain was unbearable.

As two more minutes dragged by, I was sure we'd all be killed.

The car was caving in with the force of the ice.

It felt like my back had been viciously whipped.

When it finally stopped, I grabbed my phone and dialled Brett.

"There's been an accident," I began, but the rain and hail made it almost impossible to hear him.

I texted him my location, gave Clara to Grandma and got out of the car.Shivering with coldness and shock, I surveyed the fallen trees and gushing torrent of water down the road.

The level was rising quickly. We needed to get to higher ground before we were swept away.

Jumping back in to the car, I tried to get the windscreen wipers moving to push away the ice.

I was so shaken I couldn't even remember how to do it.

And as I tried to pull on the handbrake, I realised it was completely covered in ice.

Smashing it with my fist, I managed to crack it enough to release it.

The windscreen was smashed and covered in white so I leaned out my window to see where we were going.

My back was severely bruised.
My back was severely bruised.

By now the road was a dirty brown river.

I steered up the incline, dodging the fallen trees as the storm continued to rage.

When we reached far enough up, I spotted a cottage.

I bolted inside screaming for help.

The owner, Lindsay, came rushing out and called an ambulance.

His wife Anne appeared a few minutes later, armed with blankets and doonas.

As I wrapped them round Grandma and Clara, Anne looked at me in terror.

"Your back's covered in bruises," she trembled.

My feet were blocks of ice and covered in cuts.

I did what any mother would do to protect her child.
I did what any mother would do to protect her child.

Soon the ambulances arrived.

I sat in the back feeding Clara and changing her clothes as the paramedic assessed us.

"Didn't you see the weather warnings?" she asked.

With such a busy morning taking Clara to the doctors, I hadn't even looked at my phone.

At the hospital, I saw the shock on the nurse's face as she looked at my back.

She took a photo to show me.

It was black and blue.

I'm so glad Grandma and Clara are okay.
I'm so glad Grandma and Clara are okay.

It was also embedded in my scalp.

Apart from a few scratches and bruises, Clara was fine.

Grandma's arm had taken a pretty bad battering when she was shielding Clara, so they kept her in overnight.

But Clara and I were free to go home.

Later that night, I posted my injuries on a Facebook group, asking for recommendations of products to heal bruises.

Within just a few minutes, my post had thousands of likes and shares.

I couldn't believe it.

And the next morning, my photos were all over the news.

People have been calling me a hero mum, but I just did what anyone would do to protect their child.

What matters most is that we're all OK, because things could have ended very differently for all of us.

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