By Max Winkelman – 100 Mile Free Press
“I can’t remember much,” says Ilona Wickens.
On the morning of Nov. 20, she was driving from Forest Grove to 100 Mile House with her 12-year-old daughter Paige Szolosi when their SUV got out of control, started rolling and went off the road into the bush, says Wickens. Szolosi assists Wickens on some of the details she’s not sure of.
“The vehicle came to a stop. I was trapped inside. My window was broken,” she checks with her daughter. “My window was broken. My daughter was able to get out. She was not trapped; her side was not squished, my side was. She crawled out and this happened at about 10 o’clock in the morning. She went all the way up to Canim Hendrix Lake Road. She waved down a logging truck and told him you have to help me get my mom.”
Wickens had to be taken out with the jaws of life by fire rescue.
“It took them just over an hour to get me out. If it wasn’t for my baby I wouldn’t be here right now. All of my broken back, broken ribs. I’m still in hospital,” says a very emotional Wickens.
Szolosi was injured herself. While Wickens can’t remember what her daughter’s injuries were precisely, Szolosi ended up with stitches and surgery.
“If it wasn’t for her to crawl out and go up to the main road, I wouldn’t be here anymore because I hit so hard that, like I said, I broke my back broke my ribs and when I did come to I thought I was kidnapped. My brain was not there and the doctors were surprised that I recovered as fast as I did in that way.
“My daughter is just amazing.”
Szolosi was only just released from the hospital herself on Dec. 5 but recovery will be longer for Wickens.
“The recovery process the whole thing is very slow going. I’m in a lot of pain and can’t move on my own, but we’re working at it.”
Szolosi will be staying at a hotel in Kamloops with her grandfather, so she can visit every day, says Wickens. As the sole parent, her daughter means everything to her, she says, adding that they’re best friend, the whole nine yards.
“I’ve never been so proud in my life that I have the baby girl that I have,” she says.
It’s going to take a long time to recover, she says. She’s hoping to be able to move to the 100 Mile hospital so they’re closer to home.
The pair was visited by the Blazers earlier and were also paid a visit by Szolosi’s principal Mikal Brogan, from Forest Grove where Szolosi goes to school.
All of the students and staff wrote personal get well and birthdays cards, since it was also Szolosi’s birthday on Dec. 1, and sent some flowers and stuffies, says Brogan.
“She remembers the whole accident and she remembers looking over, she was half out of the car I guess, and she saw her mom, you know, not-responsive. Rather than freaking out, she knew to run, even though she was quite a way from the road, she knew to run all the way over, over a fence onto the road to flag down help in the state that she was in. Because of that she basically saved her mom’s life.
“What it took to do that in that type of situation, in my opinion, just is remarkable and she’s a hero in our eyes, and just really proud of her for doing what she did.”
Szolosi herself couldn’t stop talking about something else entirely, says Brogan.
“She said, ‘Mr. Brogan when does basketball season start?’
“She is just huge into basketball. I said, ‘Paige don’t worry about that right now.’ She goes, ‘no I need to be there. The doctors said I can start mid-January for basketball season.’”
She’s been practicing in her room with the garbage can constantly, says Brogan.
Szolosi had to have some of her hair cut which Brogan says the school will pay to fix.