When an university student went hiking in the snow with her boyfriend and beloved dog Buster, she didn’t have a care in the world. They wanted to take some pictures by the train tracks and Annika had done her makeup especially for the occasion. But when things went horribly wrong, the 18-year-old Reno resident didn’t know if she would live or die…

Buster, spooked by the oncoming train’s noise, bounded on to the tracks. Thinking she had time to grab him, Annika lunged for her furry best friend. But unfortunately, it was too late.

Here’s the story from the Reno Gazette Journal:

It was at least a football field away when Annika Kerns saw the train.

She remembers the deep intruding sound of the horn. The train appeared from the mountainside as it rounded a corner in a landscape filled with snow-covered sagebrush. The Union Pacific train horn blared as a warning to step back from the tracks as shipping crates barreled toward downtown Reno on March 3. And then Annika remembers lying in the freshly fallen snow, feeling as if she couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t move her legs. 

Nearly a month ago, Annika, 18, was hit by a train as she hiked past a no-trespassing sign with her boyfriend and her dog Buster.

She remembers Buster, a rescue dog she named for San Francisco baseball player Buster Posey, being startled by the train’s horn. The dog darted back toward the tracks as the oncoming train came from behind. 

That’s when Annika raced to save him, not thinking or calculating what was about to happen as the train darted forward. The sound of the horn and the train seemed far enough away.

The train hit Annika as it was traveling more than 30 mph, colliding with such force that the University of Nevada, Reno student was thrown several feet in the air as she flipped forward. 

“Buster is dead,” she said over and over.

But Buster wasn’t dead. He’d run under the train, and it passed over him, leaving him cut and bruised but alive.

Annika’s stomach muscle had detached from the bone. She fractured her spine, had two punctured lungs.

Her pelvis, shattered into seven pieces, was put together using pins and a metal plate by Reno trauma surgeon Peter Althausen.

While Annika is home from the hospital and expected to make a full recovery, the last month hasn’t been easy.

She had to drop out of UNR.  

In the days after the accident, Annika would jolt awake in fear. She has anxiety and still cries over what has happened.  Her parents cry with her.

Once a star volleyball player at McQueen High School, Annika still can’t walk and is dependent on her parents.  She may be months away from walking on her own. 

She said guardian angels watched over her that day. Both her grandfathers were fire battalion chiefs for the city of Reno.

“I just feel like they were there with me that day,” she said. “There’s no other explanation for why I’m going to walk, one day, away from this.”

Do you believe in miracles?

Have you ever rescued your dog from a terrible situation?