Sunday, December 25, 2005

Near tragedy affects Missouri House speaker

In my last post, I talked about the death of Nancy Cruzan, which occurred after an automobile accident left her in a persistent vegetative state. Only a few minutes after I put the finishing touches on the post. I looked over the weekly column by Missouri Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, whose wife was in a car accident last week. The column really puts the Christmas season into perspective and is reprinted below:


I was working in my office and didn't have my cell phone with me when suddenly there was a knock at the door. My office is only about 200 yards from the house, but I very seldom have anyone stop by after 6:00 pm. I thought it was odd and wondered who it could be.

When I opened the door a man asked if this was 713 High Street. I told him it was and he said my wife had just been in a car wreck a few blocks from the house and that it looked like she was hurt pretty bad.

As I heard those words my mind started to race. I quickly thanked him and ran out the door to my car. On the short drive over to the wreck I tried to stay calm as fears and worries about Cassie raced through my mind.

Approaching the accident it seemed my worst fears were realized. There were police and fire-truck lights flashing. Cassie's car was smashed up and in a deep ditch. Rescue workers surrounded the other car. Cassie was lying by herself in the street.

I immediately stopped the car and ran to where she was. Thankfully, she was alive and could move all her limbs. I used my Marine Corps First Aid training to see if she was OK. Of course, she was hurting, shook up and totally confused. Fortunately, it appeared she only had bruises and cuts with no serious injuries.

About this time, Shelley Keeney who is a good friend of Cassie's and the wife of Trooper Matt Kenney showed up and helped me calm Cassie down. The EMT workers brought a stretcher over and said she should go to the hospital and get checked for any internal injuries. She was complaining about a lot of chest pain and we still were not 100% sure she didn't have any broken bones.

I helped them get her over to the ambulance and planned on riding over with her, but they wouldn't let me. Shelley had called the kids and we got them all in the car and followed the ambulance over to Cape Girardeau. On the way there, I called my sister Lottie and Cassie's mom and dad.

When we arrived at the hospital the EMT said he thought she would be OK and that I could see her after they took x-rays. We had what seemed like the whole family there. I am sure it was only a few minutes, but it seemed like forever. Finally, they said I could go back and see her.

The doctor said all the x-rays checked out good, but that she would be very sore for a few weeks. She had some cuts and scrapes on her knees and hips. The seat belt had left a bruise on her chest and her neck and her shoulders were hurting her quite a bit. The doctor gave her some pain pills and I took her home.

After something like this your first response is to think "what a terrible thing to happen at Christmas." However, after seeing her there on the street and then learning that, with a little time and rest, she would be ok; I just had to count our blessings this Christmas.

Things like this really put life in perspective. I wish it wouldn't have happened, but things could have been a lot worse. I don't understand fate but am thankful there is a loving God in control of our lives.

Here is what happened. She was going to get Emily from a basketball game and was only four blocks from our house, which is in a quiet residential part of town. A young kid was going about 45 or 50 mph and ran a stop sign. He hit Cassie's car in the front driver's side, sending both cars into a deep ravine.

Cassie's car went into the ravine and almost flipped over. The front end hit a tree and the whole car flew up in the air until the roof of the car hit the tree and slammed it back down into the ground. Thankfully, that kept the car from turning over.

The other car landed on a very big rock and was balanced on the edge of it. Had it slipped off it would have flipped into the deep ravine. Thankfully, the driver and passenger of the other car were not critically injured. They had some serious cuts that required stitches and had to stay overnight at the hospital, but are home recovering now.

Both Cassie's front and side airbags deployed and thankfully she had her seat belt on. She couldn't get her door open and had to climb out the passenger door and up the ravine to the street. A gracious neighbor stopped and Cassie sent him to the house to get me. I don't know who he was, but I am so thankful he took the time to stop and to drive up to the house to get me.

The next day I went out and looked at her car. Seeing the wreckage reinforced how fortunate she was. Had the impact been three feet further down the car it would have hit squarely on the drivers door. Had that happened she would have been seriously injured or maybe even killed!!

This Christmas, I am not complaining about the traffic or the long lines at stores, or about that it's too cold or not snowing. I am not going to notice if the turkey is dry or if they don't have whipped cream for my pumpkin pie. Sometimes I spend too much time thinking about all the little stuff that in the end really doesn't matter.

This year Christmas is on Sunday. Instead of thinking about how going to church is messing up the normal Christmas day schedule, I am looking forward to spending a part of my day at church thanking God for sending His Son as a gift to mankind. I am also going to thank the Lord for protecting my family and keeping us safe. I want to say a special thank you to all the police, rescue and ambulance personnel who were out on a cold night taking care of my wife and making sure we are all safe.

There are a thousand different things that could have happened that would have allowed Cassie to avoid that wreck. Each day on the news I hear others stories where families were not as fortunate as us. I think about all these things and wonder why things like this happen. But in the end, I trust the Lord.

I hope everyone has a great Christmas. I hope you take time to enjoy your families and all the little things that make Christmas special. I also hope you take time to go to church and ask God to help those less fortunate than ourselves, and please remember to pray for protection for our military men and women fighting overseas to keep us safe!

One last thing I want to mention. I am thankful the Lord was watching over Cassie, but without her seat belt and those airbags it might not have turned out as well. Please remember to wear your seat belt. It just might save your life, even when you are only 4 blocks from home in a quiet residential neighborhood and not doing anything wrong.

(Thanks to the speaker for a well-written column that hopefully will make people think, and thank God Mrs. Jetton and the others in the accident are all right.)


Anonymous said...

That was a very nice piece! Very touching! Thank you for sharing it with us!

Anonymous said...

A frightening thing for any family to go through. It sounds like they were very lucky.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Marilyn is going to change this one any when she runs it under her byline?