MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Three weeks ago, active 25-year-old Amber Kohnhorst set out to volunteer at an animal sanctuary out west. She was hiking an unfamiliar area in Arizona, alone.
“I took pictures, so excited, then couldn’t get down,” Kohnhorst said. “That’s what started everything for my first hour, I panicked.”READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: More Dangerous Wind Chill Early Thursday, Light Snow Friday
Kohnhorst doesn’t remember falling 100 feet off a cliff. She’s grateful for that.
“The first night I just laid there, prayed, blew my whistle,” she said.
Even in her darkest moments, she was still putting others first.
“I thought, at least if I die, I’m happy,” she said. “But all I kept thinking was: What is my family going to think? How will they deal with this?”
With no cell service, Kohnhorst tried to send her goodbyes to her family, as well as an apology for causing them to suffer.READ MORE: Pond Hockey, Snow Sculpting Events Bringing International Attention To MN Winter Fun
Through the excruciating pain of a broken back and a concussion, she somehow got the strength to climb back halfway up the canyon.
“Put my backpack over, made a pillow, then laid that way, shivering,” Kohnhorst said. “I was so cold.”
More than a day passed before search crews found her.
“I’ll never forget that moment,” she said. “My heart…I was like, ‘I’m going to get rescued!'”
Currently, Kohnhorst is waiting to get back to work again as ICU nurse at the Mayo Clinic. She says she’ll hike again in the future and be sure to carry a safety pack and a whistle.MORE NEWS: Senate Democrats Fail To Change Rules On Filibuster To Pass Voting Rights (CBS News)
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Kohnhorst. To donate, click here.