A mother is being called a hero for saving her life, and the life of her four-year-old daughter, after a horrific crash on a rural Manitoba highway.

It happened on Highway 23 about one kilometre east of Dunrea on Sunday night.

While crossing a small bridge, a Chevy Impala being driven by Kristin Hiebert left the roadway; bouncing off the far bank of a river before coming to rest down a steep slope.

According to family friends, both Hiebert and her daughter, Avery, were tossed from the car during the crash.

"They were in the snow as far as I'm aware. Kristen climbed on top of Avery to keep her warm," said Morgan Campbell, a close friend of Hiberts.

Badly injured, Hiebert was able to crawl to her daughter and huddle with her to keep her warm.

Despite being just meters from other passing cars, nobody could see the pair or the wreck of the Impala down the embankment in the darkness.

With air temperatures hovering in the mid -20s, the mother and daughter spent the next several hours on the snowy embankment until daybreak.

"When the sun finally came up, she decided that she would leave her daughter and she would try to climb this ditch to get some help," said Campbell.

Friends say Hiebert has serious multiple injuries and frostbite. Despite two broken wrists and a broken femur, the single mother was able to crawl up the steep embankment to the roadway where she caught the attention of a passing motorist.

"She's a hero. She's amazing. That is the power of a mother's love," said Campbell.

Deputy Fire Chief Craig Kozak says volunteer firefighters from the nearby town of Ninette were the first emergency responders to arrive at the scene of the crash.

He says several motorists had already pulled over to help and had Hiebert and Avery in the back of an SUV to keep warm.

“I just spoke to her for a quick second in the car before EMS got there. She was sitting there it looked like maybe in a little bit of a state of shock," said Kozak.

Once paramedics arrived, Kozak was able to look at the wreckage down the embankment.

“Totally mangled. Yeah, it was in rough shape," he said.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe page for the family. It says Hiebert was airlifted to Winnipeg where she remains in hospital and is expected to undergo multiple surgeries.

Four-year-old Avery did not break any bones in the crash and friends say she is in stable condition.