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Woman Jumps Off 40-Foot Bridge: 'I Thought I Was Dead'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ATLANTA) -- Bianca Vera was driving through the winter weather across an icy bridge in Atlanta, when a driver sideswiped her, knocking her car into the guard rail. When the 22-year-old opened her door and saw a truck barreling toward her, she jumped 40 feet into the icy water of Lake Lanier.

As she fell, she heard the truck smash into her car, followed by a series of crashes as more cars piled up. "I thought I was dead at that point," Vera said.

Vera hit the water, and in immense pain, swam 100 yards to the shore in the dark. She didn't realize it at the time, but she had broken her back in the fall. "Everything went numb, the water was so cold," Vera said.

Vera screamed, but no one answered. The icy swim took nearly an hour. Once on shore, rescuers heard Vera's cries.

"I think she's very lucky,” said deputy police chief Jerome Yarbrough.

"I can't take anything for granted, nothing at all. And I was obviously put here for a reason. God spared my life. I have a purpose and I just have to find it," Vera said.

Once in the water, Vera remembered to take off all of her winter clothes and her boots so she could swim faster. She credits her quick thinking to watching television. Apparently, Vera and her boyfriend are big fans of the show Man vs. Wild.

Vera spent four days in the hospital. In addition to breaking her back and severe bruising, she also suffered from hypothermia in the cold water.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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