Minnesota woman thankful nurse was nearby after near-fatal snowmobile crash
Becky Sletto of Alexandria, Minnesota, lost 6 units of blood after severing her femoral vein. A bystander, who happened to be a nurse, is credited for saving her life.
ASHBY, Minn. — Despite almost losing her life in a snowmobile crash nearly two weeks ago and suffering from severe injuries, Becky Sletto of Brandon, Minnesota, is spreading cheer and words of gratitude to everyone she comes in contact with at CentraCare Hospital in St. Cloud.
“I decided while I am here, I was just going to focus on God, His healing and the staff. I really have been trying to compliment, bless and tell every single person that’s come in contact with me how wonderful they are,” said Sletto in a FaceTime interview from her hospital bed on Feb. 20. “I’ll see their strengths and I’ll tell them, ‘Wow, you are really good at that.’ I thank them for what they are doing for me. And they just light up. It just blesses my heart.”
As thankful as she is for all of the people who are taking care of her at the hospital, Sletto is most thankful for one particular nurse. A nurse who doesn’t even work at the hospital, but who saved her life.
Sletto, a single mom, co-owns Bombshells Salon and Spa in Alexandria. She has three children at home, ages 16, 9 and 6, as well as a grown daughter and a granddaughter who live nearby.
The snowmobile crash happened on Saturday, Feb. 11, in Ashby. Sletto was riding with three others — Connor Myers, who is her boyfriend, along with her friend of 35 years, Beth Minners, and her husband, Troy Minners.
Sletto wanted to surprise Myers with a snowmobile ride and Minners set it up for the four of them to ride. They had been riding some trails, but stopped in Ashby to get gas.
Beth Minners said that after getting gas, she and husband took off across Main Street back toward the trails and that Sletto and Myers were behind them.
“We were waiting for them to come, but it was taking a while so Troy went to see what was up and I instantly knew something wasn’t right,” said Minners. “I heard sirens and I started praying right away. That’s how fast they responded to her. It was unreal.”
Ken Froemming, a Grant County sheriff’s deputy who knows Sletto, heard the page but was on the south county line, away from where the crash happened.
Because it first sounded like there were some head injuries, LifeLink III was called to the scene, said Froemming. The Ashby First Responders and Ambulance were paged out immediately and Froemming said they got a landing zone set up on Main Street.
When Froemming arrived, Sletto was in the ambulance and he sat in there, talking to her, until the helicopter arrived.
“You don’t know how comforting it was to see a familiar face in that moment,” said Sletto about having Froemming sit with her. “Just him talking to me and me knowing him was just so soothing because it was scary. He was such a blessing.”
Froemming said Sletto’s snowmobile wouldn’t turn on the tar and she panicked and instead of hitting her brakes, she hit the throttle and rammed into a parked vehicle.
Sletto said she hadn’t been on a snowmobile since she was a teenager and that yes, she panicked and hit the gas, crashing into a car probably going 50 miles per hour.
“Thank God I had my helmet on,” she said.
She didn’t have any head injuries, but her injuries were extensive. The handlebars of the snowmobile went into the upper part of her thigh, damaging her femoral vein, causing her to lose about six units of blood. She also severed a tendon in her right thumb and has a compression fracture in her lower spine.
Froemming said a woman, Kasey Brandenburger, who happened to be nearby heard the crash and immediately went to Sletto’s aid.
“She’s a nurse and if it wasn’t for her, Becky would not be here. Becky would 100% be dead,” said Froemming, adding the quick action of the Ashby ambulance personnel also saved Sletto’s life.
A quick thinking nurse
Brandenburger and her husband have a lake home on Sewell Lake, just outside of Ashby. The couple, who live in New Effington, South Dakota, had gone to town to have breakfast. Brandenburger, who works as the director of nursing at a nursing home in Hankinson, North Dakota, said she and her husband spend most weekends at their home and they typically have breakfast in Ashby on Saturday mornings. This particular Saturday, she said, they went a little later than normal.
She said they were just leaving the cafe when they heard the snowmobiles going to the gas station.
“We looked over and saw them as we walked to our pickup,” said Brandenburger. “We heard one of the snowmobiles rev their engine. Thinking it was just someone showing off, we proceeded to get in our vehicle. As I was stepping up into the pickup, I heard a band or pop, like someone dropped a snowmobile off a trailer or something.”
The couple didn’t see anything right away, but as she looked around, Brandenburger said she saw a few people walking over between some vehicles.
“I told my husband, ‘I wonder if they need medical help’ and then I jogged over there,” she said. “As soon as I could see a person, I said I need something to stop the bleeding.”
Sletto said when the crash happened, Myers was there and saw everything. He thought there was fluid leaking out of the snowmobile, but it was actually her blood, she said.
“It was pouring out like crazy. Connor said, ‘Honey, are you OK?’ and I said I didn’t know, but I thought so,” said Sletto. “Then I looked down and there was blood literally everywhere. I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life. It was a bit traumatizing.”
Brandenburger said she took her coat and balled it up to apply pressure. Sletto said Brandenburger used Myers' coat as a tourniquet and tied off her femoral vein.
“I screamed. It hurt so bad,” said Sletto.
Thank you isn’t enough
Sletto said that because of a basketball tournament in town, there were lots of people around and that because of it, there were EMTs on scene in a matter of minutes.
“Just how everything lined up was because of God’s divinity,” said Sletto. “It was just unbelievable. Every person in place was there at the right spot at the right time. It was just like all these little miracles.”
Sletto was able to meet Brandenburger.
“I couldn’t believe it. I woke up in the ICU and they were standing there and I didn’t know what to say,” said Sletto. “I don’t know how you say anything to somebody who saves your life. It’s so cliche to just say thank you. You see these things on the news or in movies and don’t expect them to happen to you. Saying thank you doesn’t even feel like enough. It never will.”
Sletto called Brandenburger a “sweet little soul” and thought it was so neat that she was able to meet her. She said they exchanged numbers and plan to stay in touch.
Saying thank you to all who were at the scene is something Sletto is looking forward to. She said she wants to do something good for them.
“I don’t know what that will look like, but I want to do something. I want to show them how important they are.”
Long road ahead
Because of the extent of her injuries, Sletto has already had to go through multiple surgeries and will be going through more. She has endured some setbacks and it is unknown at this time how long she will be hospitalized.
As she may be wheelchair bound, there was a group of people who have stepped up and already built her a ramp at her home in Brandon.
According to the information on the page, because of the extensive injuries and everything else she is facing, it is unknown when Sletto will be able to return to work.
“She has a long road of recovery ahead of her. And unfortunately for her, this means she has no way to provide for her family,” it said in the post.
Donations can be made via her GoFundMe page . Go to gofundme.com and search for “Becky Sletto.” They can also be made directly to her via her Venmo account – @Becky-Sletto – or to Bell Bank in Alexandria, c/o Becky Sletto.