The family of Sarah Stott is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for a 22-year-old whose legs were severed by a train in Montreal earlier this month.

An online crowdfunding campaign, started on Sunday by Stott's best friend, to help Stott and her family.

In less than a week, it has raised nearly $40,000.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 8, Stott finished a waitressing shift at the Irish Embassy Pub and Grill in downtown Montreal by popping in to visit a friend.

She took a taxi to her friend’s place, but when she realized no one was there, she headed home to Verdun on foot, across CN Rail tracks that have become a popular but unauthorized rail crossing.

She saw a stopped train on one set of tracks. But it wasn’t until it was too late that she saw the second one.

The trains were near the CN rail yard at Bridge and Wellington streets, near the Victoria Bridge. It is not known how fast the train was travelling or whether it made any sounds as it approached.

"She saw the train coming and she ran as fast as she could. She thought she could make it across," said mom Shelley Stott.

Conscious during entire ordeal

The woman told her mom she remembers seeing her severed legs, and then trying to sit up and crawl towards them.

'She saw the train coming and she ran as fast as she could. She thought she could make it across.' - Shelley Stott, mother of Sarah Stott

She lost her entire right leg, and her left leg was severed below the knee.

She was lying on the ground in the cold for three to four hours before another train began approaching.

She sat up and waved the train down, and was transported to hospital shortly thereafter.

That’s where she has been ever since.

Stott is in a Montreal hospital trauma unit, where she was given a tracheotomy and has undergone more than 15 surgeries.

"It’s a miracle that she’s alive," Shelley Stott said. "Every day with her is an absolute blessing. She has an extremely strong spirit and will to live. She was left there for three, four hours with her legs severed, in the cold. She was still conscious. She was hypothermic."

Stott has a long road ahead of her.

Her mother said she may still lose her fingertips or parts of her hands, and is facing at least a year of rehabilitation after she gets out of hospital.

Her mom will move her back to Ottawa to take care of her.

Mom 'speechless' over support

Despite experiencing a double amputation in such a horrific way, she said her daughter has maintained her sense of humour.

"I walked into the room one day and she was awake, and she lifted her leg and said, 'Look Mom, I have no legs!' And I said, 'Yes sweetheart, you’re going to get a brand new one.' She said, 'Yes I am! It’ll be firm forever and I want it tanned,'" Shelley recounted.

She said she has been blown away by the support her daughter has received from friends, co-workers and even strangers, including the money raised so far through crowdfunding.

"It’s very overwhelming … I always believed people have a good heart, but for the amount that was raised in such little time … I’m speechless. I’m overwhelmed. I’m full of gratitude," Shelley Stott said.

Outpouring of support

Emily Whyte, Stott's best friend, decided to start the fundraising campaign after hearing about the accident.

"I just wanted to help Sarah however I could," she said. 

"I was so devastated when I heard about the accident. It's so shocking and such a rare thing to happen, and I knew there would be a lot of medical bills.

"I didn't expect that turnout, and I think that's going to help her heal, just to see how many people care about her and how many people are rooting for her," Whyte said.