Fiona Simpson and her grandmother were driving back from an appointment when it started to rain.
The 23-year-old had not heard the weather reports, so she did not know that a superstorm was quickly approaching Thursday in Queensland, Australia. She had decided to take her grandmother and her 4-month-old daughter to a coffee shop for the afternoon, she told Australia’s “The Project.”
But the rain got heavier, and then it started to hail — blowing out a back-seat window of Simpson’s vehicle and putting her infant in danger. Without thinking, Simpson said, she unlatched her seat belt, jumped into the back seat and threw her body over the baby, trying to shield the child from the icy pellets that were pouring into the vehicle.
Now Simpson, from Kingaroy, Queensland, has massive bruises covering her back and arms.
“At the end of the day, all that matters is that we’re alive,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) about the ordeal. “A car can be replaced and bruises can heal, and we’re just all safe right now.”
Simpson could not immediately be reached for comment Friday morning by The Washington Post.
Simpson said she was driving home to Kingaroy, near Brisbane, when she had to pull over on a highway.
“The rain was so heavy, I couldn’t see anything,” she said on “The Project.” “I couldn’t see anything in front of me. I couldn’t see the line on the side of the road, which I was following, so I just decided I’d pull over and just stop and just put my hazard lights on and wait until it passes.”
After it began to hail, she said, “I hear this bang and all this cold air coming in and rain, and I look over at the back window and it’s just gone.”
Simpson told the news show that she tried to process what had happened — first wondering whether she had rolled down the window. When she realized it was broken, she said, she dove into the back seat.
Simpson told the ABC that she climbed over her infant daughter’s car seat to try to protect her from the hammering hail.
“I could see her — she was screaming — but I couldn’t even hear her it was just so loud,” she said, explaining that she shielded her daughter for at least 30 seconds. She said she had hoped it would pass quickly, but the storm only got worse.
Simpson said she unbuckled her daughter’s seat belt, picked her up and tried to pass her to her grandmother so she would be safe, but, at that moment, her grandmother’s window blew out as well. Simpson said she hopped back into the front seat and placed her crying child on the floorboard near the pedals — the only safe place she could find. Then, she said, she tried to cover her grandmother.
“It was so scary, but there was no time to be afraid,” she told the ABC.
Following the ordeal, Simpson posted photos on Facebook, showing her arms and back covered in red welts that would soon turn to bruises.
“I’ve learned my lesson today,” she wrote. “NEVER drive in a hailstorm! We parked on the side of the road when the storm got too heavy and the hail blew out our windows. I covered my infant with my body to stop her from getting badly injured. Please, please be careful in this storm season.”
Simpson told “The Project” that her grandmother’s arms were also badly bruised and that “a lot of skin is off — it’s pretty deep.” She said her grandmother was treated at a hospital and released.
She said the baby suffered only minor bumps and bruises.
Now Simpson has a message for others: “If you know there is a storm coming, just wait it out,” she told the ABC.
“We did the right thing,” the young mother added. “There’s nothing else we could have done. I just can’t believe hail could have done that.”