Monday, March 24, 2014 at 11:00 we were targeted for attack. Death may have been the ultimate goal of our Enemy. But God... God intervened and spared our lives.
We were coming from visiting my dear Mamon in the nursing home who has just herself fought a serious health battle and won. I saw her looking better than she had in a long time. We had a lovely visit, took pictures and gave lots of smooches. I always knew she loved me and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to tell her how much I love her. I don't know that I will see her again on this side of heaven.
We stayed with our friends and had a lovely but brief visit. We only stayed overnight and left on Monday because we had a long list of responsibilities awaiting us at home. My son wanted to drive back on I-10. I agreed because he was a fairly new driver and I knew that it would give him some good experience and I could give him some good tips as we drove back. He was doing well. We made it from Sulphur almost all the way through Beaumont when disaster struck.
We were travelling in the right lane getting ready to go over a high overpass over a ravine. There was traffic merging onto I-10 right before this bridge. A large white double-cab work truck full of workers was merging onto I-10 without looking to see if the lane was clear. Everything happened in an instant although it felt like forever. I saw what was about to happen and looked to left to see if my son could escape. I saw another white truck in the far left lane behind us. I didn't think we had enough room to swerve in front of him. I knew we were trapped. The next second we were hit by the work truck. I can't recall the actual sequence of events. But I remember feeling like we swerved for what seemed an eternity. We hit the concrete barrier on the left at some point. I felt like we were in a pinball machine. It felt so unreal. Like we were in a movie. I kept thinking, "this isn't real". I remember trying to reach over to grab the steering wheel to help Lucas. A massive jolt prevented me from doing this. All of the sudden, we were spinning. I saw oncoming traffic on I-10 coming toward us. I knew we were in trouble. The first thing that comes out of my mouth is "Jesus". I hear Lucas repeating "Jesus". I say it a second time. I hear Lucas say something like "It's going to be OK." and our car comes to a sudden stop in the grass alongside of I-10 along the steep embankment of the overpass. The front of the car is facing I-10, but we are safely off of the freeway. I tell Lucas to pull the emergency brake and turn off the car. Smoke is inside the car and it smells strongly of burnt rubber. I try my door and it won't open. The boys exit their side of the vehicle and I crawl over the driver's seat and get out. I almost fall down because the embankment is so very steep. I can hardly stand. I look over and see the concrete-lined ravine below the bridge. I check the boys and they are fine. I can't catch my breath.
We just start hugging, kissing and telling each other we love each other. I am praising God right there on the side of I-10 for his protection. I don't care who sees. A kind lady with a small child in the back seat rolls down her window and asks if we are OK. Immediately, we are surrounded by three amazing witnesses who stopped their vehicles and are checking on us. God bless those precious people! We check over the car and see that the front driver's side wheel is completely gone. Not just the tire, but the entire wheel. As near as we can figure, it hit the edge of the bridge as we were spinning and was ripped off. It is holding onto the grass and dirt like a claw. We see a tire at the bottom of the steep embankment, but we aren't sure if it is ours. There are dents on both sides and the rear corner of the vehicle. The trunk is open. The airbags never deployed. One of our suitcases was tossed from the vehicle and lay on the side of I-10 about a foot from our vehicle. Nothing else is missing from our trunk which was full of suitcases, air mattress and other items. The glass candles I was carrying in the trunk never even broke. Amazing!
I can feel my neck already hurting. That isn't a good sign. Zack says the middle of his back hurts and Lucas complains about one of his shoulders and neck. No bruises or bleeding.
We look westward down I-10 about 1/4 of a mile and see the work truck that hit us. We can see the workers getting out of the car and checking on the vehicle. Suddenly, one of our witnesses yells "They are leaving!". The workers got back in their truck and left the scene of the accident without checking on us. I can't believe it. At this point, about three minutes after the accident, three very kind Beaumont police officers show up. The three witnesses give their information and leave. One of our witnesses tells us and the police that the vehicle that hit us is from one of two companies. How does he know this? One of our witnesses has to go to Houston where his mom is at the doctor. He says he will keep an eye out for this vehicle and call us if he sees it. (He calls later to say he arrived in Houston without seeing the vehicle.) I call my husband to tell him about the accident. He's on his way to us. He has an hour and a half drive before he sees us.
The police officers offered to take us to a nearby hotel. We took what we could from the trunk and put it in the back of the police car. We climb into the bare, uncomfortable plastic seat of the police vehicle. This is the first (and hopefully last) time any of us have ever been in the back of a police car. As we are driving up to the road to the hotel, the gravity of what happened hit me like a ton of bricks. We could have plunged into the ravine below and been killed. We could have been hit by other vehicles on I-10. We could have been seriously injured. I am overcome with gratefulness for God's protection of us and I start crying in the back seat of the police car. Lucas was sitting next to me and put his arm around me to comfort me. I assure him it is tears of thankfulness.
The police officers arranged with the front desk for us to stay in the lobby until my husband arrives. The hotel is very gracious. We hug all of the officers because we are so grateful for their kindness. One of the police officers comes back to the hotel after the car was safely towed and gave us all the information regarding where it was towed and our police report number. He told us "I don't want to scare you, but we see this kind of accident all the time and it usually involves several other vehicles plowing into the first vehicle that has spun out. I don't know how you avoided other collisions." I tell him "God protected us."
Lucas has some scratches on his arm. We figured out is was from my fingernails as I tried to grab the wheel to help him gain control of the vehicle. We get a good laugh about that. Other than that, we had no broken bones, bruises or cuts.
I call my friend Laura and ask her to pray and have a friend look in on our dog. She prays with me and listens as I tell her how God spared our lives that day. I am so thankful for my prayer warrior friend.
The boys and I try to reconstruct the accident. Each of us remembers certain parts of the accident, so together we come up with the picture of what might have happened. Of course, we won't know this side of heaven. I can tell you that we had angels round about that vehicle and Jesus inside that vehicle with us.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalm 18:6
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. Psalm 18:17
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? Psalm 27:1
As soon as Greg arrived, we told him about the accident. We drove over to the tow place where our vehicle was. We took pictures and took everything out of the vehicle. It was totaled and we were never going to see it again.
|front driver's side wheel was completely torn off|
|driver's side where we hit the concrete barrier|
|passenger side of the vehicle where we were struck. Note the angle of the back bumper.|
The police said they saw the underside of the vehicle when it was towed and the frame was bent.
The next day, I am driving Lucas to school in his vehicle. I don't want him driving yet. I'm jumpy but OK. As I'm driving back, I am suddenly aware that I am running a red light. It looked green but suddenly it is red. I look in my rear-view mirror and see another vehicle stopped at the intersection where I just was and one coming from the opposite side. Clearly something isn't right. I am praying myself home. I find my mind wandering and I'm losing chunks of time. I use rhyming words instead of the word I want to use. I had some fuzzy vision in my right eye and my right sinus cavity feels pressure. My dear Laura comes to my rescue again and drives me to the doctor. X-rays reveal whiplash. My primary care physician chalks the time loss and loss of concentration to post concussion syndrome and says it will all be better in a week. X-rays later reveal that Lucas also has whiplash. Zack was spared this diagnoses. We are all in chiropractic care. Our doctor feels confident that we will be back to normal very soon. I'm driving again but I always take someone with me and call out the color of the light I see before going through an intersection. It feels ridiculous, but it works. So far, no errors.
The PTSD is real and hard after an accident like this. Closing your eyes and seeing the scenes of the accident playing over and over in your head is unnerving. I couldn't sleep well after the accident. I am overcome by emotion at odd times. I am aggravated at my husband when I think he is being dismissive and isn't being sensitive about how I am feeling. I can't even imagine how hard PTSD must be for our soldiers coming back. They have seen and experienced so much worse. Lord bless them and heal them!
Yes, we are all OK. Yes, vehicles can be replaced. Yes, the Lord will restore us to better than before. But this is all so very fresh and raw. I'm giving myself time to process and heal. It will come. It isn't fair that someone injures us and gets away with it. They stole our vehicle and our health. "Vengeance is mine" saith the Lord. They will get away with nothing.
I pray that someone in that vehicle have a change of heart and turn themselves in. They need to pay for what they did. Only a coward runs away from his responsibilities. I am thankful for those good witnesses that stopped and made sure we were OK and stayed with us until the police came. They all had somewhere to be but stopped for us. Although there was an entire truck filled with cowards, there was an entire interstate filled with righteous and caring people. God's blessing on you all.