Woman's tale of survival spurs Colorado's road innovation that detects accidents

Posted at 10:18 PM, May 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-31 00:25:09-04

BRIGHTON, Colo. -- New technology underneath our feet could help save lives. Four years after a woman survived a terrible car accident, her story is helping kick-start Colorado’s plans to make our roads smarter and safer.

Kristin Hopkins can't remember much of the six days she spent without food or water. She was stuck inside her crashed car, down the side of Red Hill Pass off Highway 285.

"My feet were purple. That's all and then they felt weird and that's all I knew," said Hopkins. "Someone was going to find me. I prayed. Someone was gonna find me. When I first came to my sense, it was 'I gotta pick up my kids.'"

That was four years ago. A couple driving by spotted her car and went to get help.

"When they were going to smash the window, I put my hand up and they realized, oh she's not dead."

She woke up in a hospital and got the news. Her life would never be the same: both her legs just below the knee had to be amputated. It's been a long journey, but she's learned to walk, run and even competes in mud runs wearing her prosthetics.

"I am so lucky. You know, there are people out there that are so much worse off than I am and they are smiling every day," said Hopkins.

Her story doesn't end there. While it's certainly inspirational, it's actually pushing the state of Colorado to do something about it, and it all starts on Brighton Boulevard with a small test that CDOT is planning for this summer, before a full scale test on Red Hill Pass next winter.

Tim Sylvester, head of Integrated Roadways, created something called “smart pavement”: sensors underground will detect accidents leaving the roadway and notify emergency responders.

"In a lot of ways this is kind of a hidden technology like the wires in your wall," said Sylvester.

For Hopkins, her near death experience is now spurring life-saving innovation.

"Technology is amazing and if they can do things like this and help save people, then that's amazing," said Hopkins.

For more information about smart pavement, visit Integrated Roadways.