Leigh Fazzina was laying on the ground, panicking. Her bike was crushed. Her helmet, which had just flown off her head, had a big dent in it. She was coughing, dry heaving, spitting up dirt. That's when she turned to Twitter.
“I've had a serious injury and NEED Help! Can somone please call Winding Trails in Farmington, CT tell them I'm stuck bike crash in woods,” she tweeted at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday.
Earlier that day, Fazzina and her cousin had entered a mini-triathlon at Winding Trails, an outdoor resort in Farmington. Fazzine, who runs a Philadelphia-based health care public relations and social media communications consultancy, took a wrong turn and headed deep into unfamiliar woods.
As she road downhill, Fazzina's bike hit roots and and the cyclist flew over her handlebars.
“When in air all I kept thinking was 'OMG – I’m going to break my neck!' And there is no one out here with me!,” she wrote on her Web site.
She hit the ground, and her bike struck her as she landed.
“I was hyperventilating a bit, coughing, dry heaving, spitting up dirt, shaking, going into a semi shock and slightly panicking,” she blogged. “My helmet hit so hard it was dented and flew off my head. The water bottle was crushed like a car had hit it and my bike looked like a Mack Truck hit it,” she said. “I thought to myself 'How on earth did I just survive this.'”
She began to scream. No one responded.
After 25 minutes of calling for help, she crawled to her BlackBerry and tried to call a cousin who was not on the race. The call failed, but the signal was strong enough for an Internet connection, she wrote. “I also learned in the midst of it all that the Blackberry instant message worked too."
“I knew Twitter would get me an immediate response as my messages would be sent to the 1,000 or so people in my network,” she blogged. “Of course my Twitter network friends would respond immediately and help me!”
Seconds after her first tweet, she tweeted again: This is not a joke. I'm lost in woods on triathlon. Bike crashed, I can't get up, and no one is around me. I'm yelling for help.
Within seconds, Fazzina’s Twitter friends and colleagues from all over heard her and reached out to authorities. The Farmington Police Department received a call from a woman in California, who led rescuers to Winding Trails.
She tweeted directions and landmarks and stayed in tough with friends.
Then, on Wednesday morning: No fractures, no broken bones... Just really stiff and really sore from head to toe. :(
Her friends, she said, helped her stay calm.
“Being injured alone for a good 30 mins. in a forest where I had never been, and unsure if I was going to be found, was scary. It was also painful and it was shocking,” she said.
But, Twitter and Fazzina’s Twitter friends came through. She was rescued, placed on a stretch board and taken to the University of Connecticut Medical Center.
But, even on a stretcher, she shot video of the rescue. In the ambulance, she kept tweeting to let those who helped rescue her know she was OK.
“Luckily I have no broken bones or anything else severe. I was poked and pricked and on an IV of some nice anxiety drugs to calm me, and some anti-inflammatory meds. I am extremely sore, very stiff and a bit uncomfortable. When I cough and sneeze, I am in pain. But all in all I am very, very lucky nothing else happened,” she said.
“I will ride again,” she added, “but only in woods and on a path I’m familiar with, and making sure my Twitter is with me.”