A Matter of Divine Intervention???
“I was heading east on Interstate 64, just before the Chesapeake Boulevard exit, when I lost control of my car. I remember sliding, and the car then flipped over. I reached for my cell phone to dial 911–that’s when I realized my legs were on fire. I just dropped the phone and started to scream.”
That’s how a young Navy woman described her car crash in the early morning hours of Nov. 16.
A pastor who was on the highway that night and witnessed the event said, “We saw a fast-moving car traveling the same direction as us, and, as we went around a bend, the car just hit the wall and started spinning. It then flipped over the divider before coming to rest in the HOV lane.
“I ran across the road and saw that the car was on fire and that all the glass still was intact. By now, another passerby had yelled for me to get a bar and break a window so I could rescue the occupant. I ran back to my car and pulled a hammer from my toolbox.
“When I returned, I heard cries, ‘I’m burning, I’m burning!’ coming from the overturned vehicle. I jumped down over the wall and grabbed the two arms that were reaching out the window.”
About this time, a second man jumped in to help the pastor pull out the occupant. Just as they had freed her from the car, its gas tank exploded, throwing both men and the young Navy woman backward. The two men quickly got back to their feet and pulled her away from the burning vehicle.
“Once we were a safe distance away,” said the pastor, “we rolled the victim around on the ground and used a blanket to smother the flames. Then we lifted her over the wall to the many waiting arms, including those of an off-duty paramedic.”
For the next seven months, the victim was in the burn center of Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, where she underwent many surgeries–nine in just two months.
“I think about the situation, and I count my blessings,” she said. “This mishap has changed my life significantly–it has given me a better look at people in general. If someone had told me I was going to be in a wreck like that and have people I didn’t even know save my life, I would have said, ‘No way!'”
Assigned to USS Theodore Roosevelt since May 2001, the victim was on board for the record-setting Operation Enduring Freedom deployment, as well as the ship’s most recent Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment. She hopes to report back to TR once fully recovered.
“I really miss the ship and the people,” she said. I made a lot of friends on board, and there aren’t a lot of jobs that allow you to meet people from all over the country like the Navy does.”
The TR Commanding Officer, Capt. Turk Green, showed his appreciation and thankfulness to the pastor who pulled the victim from her car by presenting him with a Public Service Award, a ship’s coin, and a command ball cap. The CO made these presentations the same day as the victim’s advancement ceremony to P03.
“Without his [the pastor’s] direct intervention,” said the CO, “the victim might not be with us today. We often think of ourselves as barriers between evil and the American public, but that is what we do–we are Sailors. The pastor did that as a citizen for a Sailor, and that is just incredible to me.”
A slightly different version of this story first appeared in the May 27, 2004, issue of [The Flagship], a weekly newspaper produced by the public affairs staff of Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.
COPYRIGHT 2005 U.S. Navy Safety Center
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group