Averie Carrion went in search of help after her mom, 25-year-old Jamie Carrion, hit a slick spot on Iowa Highway 10 while heading home to Granville. Carrion had borrowed her stepfather's truck. She told Sioux City television station KTIV that although Averie normally rode in a car seat, she was just wearing a seat belt Sunday night while riding in the back seat with her 1-year-old brother.
"We hit the ditch and we rolled about two or three times," Carrion said. The truck ended up lying on its passenger side.
Carrion said she was stuck in the truck and could see her son, but not Averie, when she called 911.
"I thought she was unconscious and I thought she was pinned under the vehicle and I started to panic," Carrion said.
But Averie had managed to get out of the truck and head across a field to a farmhouse.
"This little girl thinking they were in big trouble was able to climb out of the vehicle and then her instincts must have kicked in," Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena said.
Averie arrived at the farmhouse cold and soaked. The sheriff said there was a foot of snow on the ground and the temperature was about 21 degrees that night.
The girl was able to get into the home's garage.
"And then I sit in the garage and wait for the parents to help me and then one little boy came looking for a little girl and he saw a little girl outside and then he tells his mom, 'Mom and dad, I found a little girl!'" Averie told KTIV.
Averie's grandmother, Nancy Schwebach, told The Sioux City Journal that the girl told the homeowners, Patrick and Jean Zenk, that "her brother was crying and she thought her mother was dead."
The sheriff said it's unclear how the Zenks notified officials that they found Averie, but the family was reunited and taken to a hospital where they were treated for minor injuries and released.
Messages seeking comment were left Wednesday with the Zenks and Jamie Carrion.
Altena said Carrion was ticketed for failure to maintain control, and failure to properly secure a child because Averie wasn't in a car seat.
"We felt we had to," he said.
Information from: KTIV-TV, http://www.ktiv.com