Lady Houdini act defying the odds on and off stage

Lady Houdini (Kristen Johnson) and her husband (Kevin Ridgeway) show what is left of the driver's seat he was in when their vehicle was hit by a distracted driver.
By: 
JOE WILLIAMS
Staff Writer

Lady Houdini, also known as Kristen Johnson, has made a habit of pulling off seemingly impossible feats — whether it is escaping from a 140-gallon water torture chamber, being hung upside down in a straight jacket, or her latest feat, returning to the stage after a horrific car accident.
Johnson, along with Kevin Ridgeway (her husband and the other member of the Lady Houdini act) suffered devastating injuries in January when their vehicle was hit by a distracted driver.
"Unfortunately a 17-year-old girl was texting and driving and blew through a red light at 50 miles an hour," Ridgeway said. "Kris and I both suffered pretty catastrophic injuries. I was unconscious for five weeks with multiple injuries. I lost 66 pounds while in the hospital."
Ridgeway also lost a kidney in the accident. Johnson broke several ribs, punctured a lung, suffered a concussion and has ongoing issued with headaches and double vision.
The accident could have ended their careers, but the couple, miraculously, is back on the road and will be performing at the Eastern Idaho State Fair (EISF) beginning on Friday. That is something that Fair Manager, Brandon Bird, is grateful for.
"The thought of that happening to anyone is sickening," Bird said. "And it was a bit terrifying to think that we might have to replace them. It was late in the season and most entertainers already had their schedule set. I hate to see anybody go through this and they are amazing people and an amazing act."
EISF patrons may remember their act from 2014, but this year will be different.
They will share their story and are dedicated to spreading the message about the dangers of distracted driving.
"I've put on 43 pounds since I was released from the hospital and I've only been walking for about a few months but this is our passion and we knew we were going to do whatever it takes to get back on the road," Ridgeway said. "Hopefully I can use my experience to make a difference."
The duo also mentioned how excited they are to be back in Blackfoot for the EISF, saying that they are looking forward to checking out the Indian Relay races, the Joan Jett concert and hopefully running into a couple of their most memorable fans.
"Last time we were here, there was a couple guys that were super sweet," Johnson said. "They came to every single show we put on and came up after the show to get a poster every time too. So they've got a bunch of posters of us and I even had them give me a photo of them that I have hanging up."
Johnson has performed the Water Torture Cell stunt more that 1900 times — more than anyone else, but says it still makes her a little nervous.
"The water cell is not fun to do," she said. "It gives me what I call 'controlled anxiety.'
You can catch their show on the West Event arena stage. For more information, you can check out their pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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