By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A crash on an icy road left a Twin Cities woman with a serious brain injury 10 years ago.

Hannah Aspenson and her boyfriend at the time were driving to a Green Bay Packers game in Missouri, when they hit a patch of black ice.

The car rolled, leaving the St. Louis Park woman with life-threatening injuries.

“We hit black ice and my car flipped around backwards,” Aspenson said. “And we were going 76 miles an hour backwards down the highway, and then we hit a guard rail, and we went airborne and hit an overpass bridge.”

Hannah Aspenson (credit: CBS)

Aspenson remembers waking up hanging from her seatbelt. She was hospitalized with injuries to her heart and lungs. But while those healed, another kind of injury lingered.

“I actually realized that I had vocabulary issues, my memory was horrible,” Aspenson said. “My personality was completely different. It’s like I had to re-learn who I was.”

That was hard enough, but Aspenson also found herself trying to convince others that she was struggling inside. After her grades dropped and she left the University of Minnesota, Aspenson began focusing on her strengths.

The aftermath of Hannah Aspenson’s car crash (credit: CBS)

Eventually she gained confidence and began attending a local production school.

“It feels like a different life, honestly,” she said. “I know more about who I am today than I knew even before I was in that accident.”

Today, she has three college degrees, a new job — and a story to tell.

“You can let it destroy you or you can let it strengthen you,” Aspenson said. “I hope everyone chooses the latter.”

She is hoping people slow down and drive safe this winter.

The 10-year anniversary of the crash is this Friday, and because of the help she got, Aspenson is hoping people will consider making a donation to the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance.

John Lauritsen