Friday, August 16, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Angel sent from above

I think people need miracles like the one that seemed to have taken place in New London, Missouri.

I was so struck by the story that it occurred to me the fire chief who talked to the big news agencies might also talk to me. I’m a reporter too and I would have loved hearing from his mouth the story of the priest who came out of nowhere to pray with the young woman trapped in her car only to disappear before they could thank him for making their equipment operate properly.

I briefly wondered why they didn’t immediately reach out for him to come forward and identify himself as the flesh and blood man he turned out to be. But I think I know why it took more than a week. They wanted him to be the angel they believed him to be. I did too.

But miracles come in many forms and most it seems are wrought by mortals such as Rev. Patrick Dowling who prayed for Katie Lentz’s leg to stop hurting and for her soul on that highway in Missouri but gives credit to the emergency workers for saving her life.

It was almost 25 years ago that my niece was killed by a drunk driver as she was coming home from grocery shopping. It was the day after her two-year-old daughter’s birthday and she was planning a party for the weekend. A two-year-old doesn’t really care if the party is off by a day or two.

It happened on a hill on Hwy. 5 just a couple of miles out of Rose Bud, very near the spot where my sister put up the big blue sign warning others about the danger of drinking and driving. The man who hit her had been drinking heavily since he left the Little Rock area. As I recall, he ran a couple of cars off the road before hitting my niece’s pickup head-on.

Ordinarily, the baby would have been in her car seat. But she had fallen asleep and my niece laid her in the seat. The impact of the crash knocked her to the floorboard. She rolled under the dash and the groceries that fell on top of her helped protect her from the flames that flashed into the cab and melted the headliner above where she should have been sitting.

The state was resurfacing the road and one man who came to help said the crash was so loud that he thought two dump trucks had run together. The impact locked the two pickups together at the bumpers. Several men tried to get them apart without success. The man’s pickup was on fire and the rescuers feared my niece’s would explode. Apparently it was obvious to them that my niece and the man were both dead. But they could hear the baby crying.

They put out the fire with water from a garden hose that was nearby, the only one on the road. And then a young man drove up, hooked a chain to my niece’s bumper, jerked the trucks apart and drove away.

No one knew him and he didn’t stay around for introductions.

The baby survived with a broken leg and arm that healed. She’s married now and expecting a baby of her own.

In my mind, her survival was a miracle aided by the hands of the men who stopped to help. But that young man whom no one knew, maybe he was more than a man. At least I’ve always wanted to believe he was. – Joan McCoy