The 65-year-old model reflected Monday on the 1994 near-fatal incident in Telluride, saying she sees each day as a “gift” after surviving the terrifying ordeal.
“This happened 25 years ago today and not a day goes by that I have not counted my blessing for being alive,” Brinkley wrote in an Instagram post of her 1994 People magazine cover where she opened up about the incident. “I know for a fact that tomorrow is not a guarantee and that each day is a gift and an opportunity to make sure that everybody we love knows it!”
Brinkley and five others were heli-skiing — using a helicopter to transport skiers to the mountain peak after each run down a slope rather than a ski lift — when the chopper took a sharp turn and began tumbling down the mountain. Brinkley recalled to People in 1994 thinking she was going to die.
“[I felt] just boom, boom, boom, pow! I would look out the window and see sky-mountain-snow, sky-mountain-snow,” Brinkley said, adding that she thought, “I am going to die. Right now? Like this? A ski trip? Today?”
The supermodel said she then thought about her daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, who was on the Colorado trip but not in the helicopter at the time, and vowed to stay strong. Brinkley eventually fell out of the helicopter’s open door and landed in the snow. The five other people in the chopper also survived.
Brinkley said seeing her daughter when she arrived at the hospital was “the sweetest thing in the world.” Billy Joel, her husband at the time, also met them a short time later.
“She came over to me, put her hands on my face and hugged me. I told her I loved her so much,” Brinkley told People.
Brinkley went on to have two more children, Jack Brinkley-Cook and Sailor Brinkley-Cook, with ex-husband Peter Cook.