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August 10, 2023

iPhone collision detection plays crucial role in rescue of Grey Highlands accident victim

Hannah Ralph in hospital following life-threatening accident

Photo: Support Hannah’s Recovery GoFundMe

BY ALISON JONES — A young up-and-coming musician is in critical condition after being air-lifted to Sunnybrook Health Sciences from Grey Highlands. Friends and family of the young woman are singing the praises of emergency responders and a new iPhone feature for saving her life.

Hannah Ralph, 21, of Burlington, was instantly located after a serious car accident between Markdale and Flesherton thanks to Crash Detection, a feature of her iPhone 14. Using this technology, her iPhone automatically placed a call to first responders and her emergency contacts when it detected the collision last Saturday August 5 on Road 130 southwest of Highway 10.

She sustained serious injuries including broken femurs and pelvis, cranial and cervical spine fractures, as well as multiple lacerations and substantial blood loss requiring transfusions. She remains in critical condition. Her family and friends have created a GoFundMe campaign to support her recovery and ability to continue creating music. “She brings her ukulele with her everywhere” said Grace Workman-Porecki, Hannah’s childhood best friend.

Initially taken to the nearby Emergency Department at Markdale Hospital, Hannah was air-lifted to Sunnybrook Health Sciences in Toronto. The Sunnybrook critical care team overseeing her care “remains confident and optimistic” according to Hannah’s aunt, Dr. Angela Jones of Burlington. Earlier this week, surgery to set multiple breaks in her legs, was successful, and she is being scheduled for an MRI while awaiting further surgeries.

While the car was damaged beyond repair in the collision, Hannah's ukulele miraculously survived unscathed. “I’m taking it as a sign that Hannah’s ukulele is intact. I cannot wait for the day when we can watch her play it,” Dr. Jones shared, “I’m telling everyone who drives in rural areas to get this (Crash Detection) technology. Who knows how long it could take to get help.”

Hannah was headed to visit her boyfriend’s Grandma and extended family in Grey Highlands. The immediate location of the collision, just east of Grey County CP Rail Trail in Markdale, is surrounded mainly by portions of forests and farmed property. Grace Workman-Porecki, Hannah’s emergency contact, received an automatic alert at 6:55 pm on Saturday and she was able to speak with first responders, who told her that paramedics were already on the scene assessing Hannah, and that an air ambulance was on the way. “The response time was incredible,” said Workman-Porecki. Shortly after, firefighters were able to get to work cutting her free from the vehicle. “We are so thankful to all the Grey Highlands first responders and staff at Markdale Hospital for getting Hannah back to us.”

Hannah’s road to recovery will be long and is uncharted. Her family, while remaining positive, know extensive costs are on the horizon: “To get her back on her feet and back to her music as soon as possible, we know she’ll succeed with support,” said Hannah’s cousin, Ali Jones, emphasizing the need for donations to cover rehabilitation services and accessibility devices, as well as daily costs of living. “Hannah is very strong and has always been a fighter. She will bring everything to the table… she deserves all the support we can rally,” said Ms Jones.

As an up-and-coming young musician born and raised in Hamilton, and former member of the internationally acclaimed Hamilton Children’s Choir, Hannah performed at the Pan-Am games in Toronto. Classically trained in piano, she is also a talented vocalist and songwriter and plays the ukulele and guitar. She had recently released her folk/pop song Just a Girl on Spotify. Hannah has been working hard to share her music and is inspired to be a music instructor. She has played with multiple bands local to Southern Ontario including Rexford Drive and Pineapple Grenade, as well as regularly performing at open mic nights throughout Burlington and Hamilton regions, including The West End Pub in Hamilton and The Dickens in Burlington.

Hannah’s parents are proud of her self-starter spirit: “She wrote these songs, played all the instruments, and learned the recording software. She rented the equipment and taught herself,” said her mom, Carolyn, of Hamilton. Hannah has also been a speaker at multiple conferences and events for alternative education in recent years. She is a passionate children’s advocate, leading events in support of teachers and students, and is a caring big sister to her younger brother Declan. In addition to her upcoming musical career and community work, Hannah was supporting herself by working as a member of the team at Parlato’s Catering, a highly rated event and professional catering business in Oakville.

Those hoping to follow Hannah’s recovery journey are invited to visit her CaringBridge page. Hannah’s loved ones are also asking the public to make blood donations in Hannah’s name: “It’s something that’s definitely saving her life, and blood banks are always in need” said her boyfriend, Mackenzie Attridge, also a musician of Hamilton. “I think people are eager to step up in every way they can… to surround this amazing kid with love and be a part of a miraculous ongoing rescue” concluded Ms Jones.


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