Three weeks after a terrible ski accident in Nova Scotia that nearly killed Olivia McLean, the 13-year-old New Brunswick girl has returned to her home hill and to a special gift to mark her survival.
The Sussex-area teen was skiing at Ski Wentworth when she missed a turn and crashed into a tree. She spent nine days in an induced coma in hospital and was finally released last week.
A helmet is credited with saving her life. On Saturday she gathered with supporters at Poley Mountain, near Sussex, and was presented with a new helmet — one signed by Jan Hudec, the Canadian who won a bronze medal in the super-G at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"It's amazing how people thought about it and how many people chipped in to get it," McLean said. "It was so nice to get it signed too. I'm almost speechless how amazing it was."
McLean uses crutches for the moment and her throat is still sore from the breathing tube inserted in hospital.
She doesn’t remember the crash, but does recall someone telling her it was mandatory to wear a helmet on Nova Scotia slopes. She borrowed her brother’s.
After the crash her ski club in New Brunswick pitched in to buy McLean and her brother new helmets.
McLean’s mother is overwhelmed by the support.
"It's very emotional. It's like coming home," Dawn McLean said. "People are coming up to us and hugging us and telling us they were praying for us.
"Some of the ski racing parents that were there that day, they actually realized what a miracle it is."