I am my family’s miracle
by Andi Wilson
On Thursday, October 22, 1992, I left my friend’s home to travel back to my mother’s house. The clock read 10:30 p.m., and I was already fatigued from a long day of living as a 16-year-old teenager. Therefore, I was relieved that the drive to my mother’s home would only take about 15 minutes.
After about five miles, my heavy eyes closed as I continued down the dark, country road. I opened them, shook my head, slapped my face and turned on the heat. I naively believed the heat would keep me awake. I rounded the first curve and came upon the next known as Devil’s Curve. The reason for the name was that the curve did not look as sharp as it really was, often tricking drivers – something I did not know. Something else I did not know what that ¾ of a mile further, signs flooded the road warning drivers that the road was closed. I never reached the road signs.
As I approached Devil’s Curve, my weariness again took hold of me and, without warning or realization, my eyes closed. I opened them and saw not the road, but a field ahead of me. I tried my hardest to turn the steering wheel to the right and correct my path. Instead, the front left tire hit a ditch forcing the car to stop instantly and roll up on the grill.
I heard glass breaking as the car continued to roll onto the hood. The car rolled two or three times. The next thing I remember is hearing a loud snap over the sound of bending metal and breaking glass. For a moment, I gathered my thoughts and realized the crack did not sound right, as if I knew the sound was not coming from the car. I screamed and blacked out.
I opened my eyes and found I was crawling across the wet grass. I pulled my body across the autumn ground as I chanted over and over, “army crawl.” The night was pitch-black, yet I could see the grass under my hands as I pulled at it, almost as if someone was holding a flashlight directly over my head. I did not know where I was crawling. I only knew my legs were not moving; in fact they were completely useless, and even though I did not seem to care, I remember feeling good that I had the strength to pull my body across the field.
An ambulance rushed me to the hospital. A few days later, when they finally moved me out of the intensive care unit and into pediatrics, a woman came in to visit. I did not know her name nor did I recognize her. Yet, she knew exactly who I was. I do remember what she told me:
I was driving home. I normally do not have my son with me, who is 10-years-old. He was with me that night only because he was at a friend’s house while I attended night class.
Once the class was over, I got in my car and drove to pick up my son. I want you to know that if he had not been with me, I never would have stopped the car. I saw the tires on your car spinning and knew the accident had to have just happened. If I had been by myself, I never would have stopped. In fact, if I had not had to pick up my son, I never would have seen the accident since I arrived only about five minutes after you wrecked. I would have already been home by that time. The road just up ahead of where you wrecked was closed so I doubt that anyone would have driven by that late at night. Not too many people live past where you wrecked.
While I walked around the field to find the driver, I sent my son to the nearest house to get help. When I found you, it looked like you had been trying to crawl to the same house to where my son ran.
I found you curled up into a little ball… almost like a fetal position. The grass around you was wet. Your doctor told me that hypothermia had already begun to set in when I found you and likely would have killed you if the accident didn’t. You were mumbling, but I couldn’t understand out what you were saying. I held your neck steady and turned you over. What is funny is I learned just that night how to handle neck injuries. My night class is a CPR class I had been taking. I am so glad you are okay.
It is possible she said more, but I do not remember the rest.
I broke my neck. My spinal cord did not snap because the gap in my neck was uncommonly wider, giving my vertebrae the space I needed to save my spinal cord.
I stayed in the hospital for 10 days. I wore a neck brace and also maneuvered around in a wheelchair at school for two weeks, even though my neurosurgeon said I should stay in it for two months.
Years later, I learned more about what took place that night. The news reported that I flew out of the car. Five years after my accident, I remembered the seatbelt trapping me, which ironically was what broke my neck. My legs were, in fact, useless as I crawled away from the car. My neurosurgeon later admitted that my vertebrae were so close to separating and snapping my spinal cord that had anyone else found me and tried to turn me over, I would have likely been dead before they rolled me onto my back.
Dr. Carney admitted to me that in his 30 years of medicine, he had never witnessed someone walking away or even breathing after such serious neck injury. He also told me that there was no medical explanation for my survival and that I was here for a purpose. If that purpose is to tell people about what happened to me, I hope it makes a difference in how they live their lives.
If you’d like to share the story of your miracle, please email it to Lauren Welty at firstname.lastname@example.org