MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota teenager says she is lucky to be alive after she survived a rollover crash near Hastings.

Seventeen-year-old Kianna Stewart fell asleep behind the wheel while driving home on the night of Aug. 4.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

She woke up as her car was hitting a sign and heading for the ditch.

“It’s a little eerie. My heart is kind of racing just thinking about it,” Kianna said.

Kianna had left a friend’s house in Hastings at about 10:30 p.m that night and was driving south on Highway 316, towards her home in Red Wing. She felt tired, and did not realize she had actually fallen asleep behind the wheel until it was too late.

“My eyes opened as I was hitting the first sign, and it really, it just terrified me,” she said. “My heart jumped out of my chest, and none of it felt real.”

Kianna’s car had veered across the road. She jumped a driveway, and then hit part of the guard rail and a sign.

“I rolled about three or four times,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Kianna does not think she fell asleep for more than a few seconds. The song she was listening to on her iPod was still playing after the crash.

When the car finally stopped rolling, Kianna realized she was still buckled in. Broken glass was everywhere and she could not open her driver’s side door. She unbuckled her seat belt, crawled out of the shattered passenger’s side window and walked away with just minor bumps and bruises.

“That night, I didn’t feel like I should’ve been alive,” Kianna said.

Two neighbors heard the crash, drove to the scene and found Kianna. They helped her call 911. Kianna was also able to call her mom.

“Getting that call was the worst call ever, but hearing her voice, it made it a little bit better to digest,” Tina Stewart, Kianna’s mom, said. “By the grace of God it wasn’t her time, and somebody needed to be with her and be her guardian angel that day.”

Lt. Tiffani Schweigart from the Minnesota State Patrol says Kianna survived because she buckled up.

“What I think is amazing about the story is a 17-year-old girl, going to be a senior in high school, and her life is the same,” Schweigart said. “Nothing changed, other than the damaged car, because she wore her seat belt.”

It was a simple decision that Kianna knows saved her life.

“Just knowing that I survived and I’m lucky and I was given a second chance … I hope a lot of other people watch how they’re driving, and definitely wear their seat belts,” Kianna said.

She says she no longer drives if she is feeling tired.

Kianna’s story also coincides with the State Patrol’s “Click It or Ticket” seat belt campaign, which runs until Oct. 25.

John Lauritsen

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