I will often say that my dad taught me everything I know about hard work and determination. My dad has not been dealt an easy life, but he has made it a good life by working hard, never giving up and appreciating the important things in life. He’s an entrepreneur at heart, it’s just engrained in his blood. He’s very good at figuring things out and problem solving. He’s made mistakes in life, but always does what he can to fix things in the end. I always say it’s not the mistakes you make, but how you overcome them that matters most. This is one of the many valuable things he has taught me.
I want to share this story with you to help you understand a little more about me and the man who raised me to be the hard working, creative person I am today. My hope is that someone feeling stuck in a situation will read this and realize that no matter how hard things may be, there’s always a way out.
Friday was a normal day for me, I got up drank my coffee and got myself ready for the day. I came out to the woodshop to start the day. At about 9:30am my husband got a call from my mom that my dad had an accident while traveling through Canada and he needed me to come get him from the hospital. We live very close to Canada, there’s a ferry in our very town, but I knew he had been traveling much farther north, near Thunder Bay, Canada. I knew he wouldn’t ask me to come all that way to get him if he didn’t really need me. A million thoughts went through my mind, why didn’t he call me? Why did he call from the hospital phone and not his? If it really wasn’t serious why doesn’t he have his phone? We had no answers, I just knew it had to be bad and I knew he would down play things to my mom to keep her from worrying. I was very worried… We tried to call the hospital at the number he called from and the number wasn’t set up to receive incoming calls. He never gave mom the name of the hospital or at least she didn’t remember. We had no way of getting a hold of him, we didn’t even know what hospital he called from or the city it was in. I just knew I needed to get to him. Thankfully we have him on our locations app and were able to pick up the signal from his phone and it showed it on the side of the road on Highway 129 in Thessalon Canada.
Tim, my husband, immediately started calling hospitals in the area to try and find out where he was. I knew I needed to get on the road and it would be at least an overnight trip so I packed a bag and picked up my sister to go with me. We stopped by moms house to check on her and to see if she remembered anything else about what he said. She said he needed us to bring him clothes. We grabbed him a change of clothes and got on our way.
At this point we knew his truck or at least his phone was on the side of the road, he had no clothes or at least access to clothes, he was in a hospital someplace in Canada. His truck wasn’t drivable. We knew it wasn’t good… We just started driving north towards his phone.
It took a couple hours, phone calls to several different hospitals and finally calls to the police department in the area to find out where he was. Several hours into our drive Tim let us know he talked to him and where we needed to go, but not many other details.
After a long day of driving we finally got to him at about 7:30pm. He started sharing the details of his accident. I listened intently trying not to forget any details this miraculous event.
My dad was picking up a truck for a friend and delivering it to him. He had been traveling for the past week by this point. He was very tired and was looking for a place to pull off the road for a long time. There just wasn’t anywhere safe to pull off. It was a very narrow winding road with many hills, creeks and lakes. About an hour before he said that everything looked red, the road, his phone, everything. He has been completely blind in one eye since he was a small boy and recently had surgery and injections in his other eye. He wasn’t sure if something was happening to his vision or if he was just so over tired. He was concerned and wanted to get someplace with a clinic to get his eye checked out. If you know this road you know it is very secluded, there’s nothing but a few homes here and there. No place large enough for a truck and trailer to pull on the shoulder. It turns out there were some pull offs, but they aren’t marked with reflectors or signage so he missed them. He believes he may have fallen asleep because the next thing he remembered was his truck hitting the wood roadside pillars one after another. His truck took out seven in total before it went over the side and flipped upside down into a creek. The truck started to fill with water. He had no idea how deep the creek was. He was hanging upside down seat belted in. Before he knew it his head was under water, he swallowed one gulp of water and knew he needed to get out. He lifted his head out of the water and told himself this wasn’t his time. He tried to unbuckle the seatbelt several times, but it wouldn’t unlock. Remember I said he’s good at figuring things out. He knows how things work mechanically. He had to push against the roof of his truck to lift himself, to take pressure off of his seatbelt to get it to unlock. He gave it one more click and he fell down to the roof of the truck that was filled with icy cold water. He was disoriented at first and crawled to the back of the truck before realizing where he was. The truck was still filling with water. He knew he had to get out. He found his way to the passenger side of the truck and instinctively punched the window and immediately knew that wasn’t going to work. He knew he needed something to break the window. He sat his hand down to find something and the instant he sat his hand into the water it went right down on top of a crowbar. He grabbed it tight. He hit the window with the corner if the crowbar. he had to hit the window several times to get it to break. When the window finally shattered, the water immediately started rushing in. He started climbing out the window. He got stuck about half way out. He was using his hands and fingers to claw at anything he could trying to get out. He felt rocks and weeds, but nothing was solid enough for him to pull himself out with. He finally got leverage with his foot against something in the truck and pushed hard to free himself. By time he got out he was so cold and had very little strength, but he knew he had to get up out of the water. It was pitch black and he couldn’t see anything, he reached around to try and find something to grab onto to help lift himself up. When he reached up there was a tree branch right there as if someone had placed it there in his hand. He grabbed onto the tree branched and pulled with all his strength to lift himself up. It was so dark he couldn’t see what way to go. He was thinking about the direction his truck was facing and trying to figure out from that which way the road was. He was standing in two feet of icy cold water, air temperature was 23 degrees and he knew needed to make his way out of there.
He followed along the side of his truck and trailer. He said it was so cold touching the metal, but he needed it to guide himself. He lost one shoe trying to get out of his truck, his other one was coming off at this point. He tried to slip his foot back into the shoe, but to wasn’t working so he decided to just kick it off. He didn’t realize at the time, but it turns out his shoe was stuck in his pants so when he kicked it off, his pants went with the shoe, they were wet and heavy from the weight of the water in them. He was so cold he couldn’t even feel anything but the cold. His wallet with all his cash and documents was in his pants pocket. He found his way to dry land and stood there not knowing which way to go for help because it was so dark. He didn’t want to let go of the tree he was holding on to because he knew his balance isn’t the greatest and he was getting even weaker at this point and was so cold. He didn’t want to end up back in the water again. He didn’t know this at the time, but he was about 20 feet down from the road in this creek. He finally saw a car go by so he now knew which way the road was and started making his way in that direction desperate to get help. Another car went by and saw his lights down in the creek. He amazingly was an off duty EMT that didn’t usually take that road to work. When dad saw the car stop he started calling out for help not knowing it they would hear him or even get out of their car to look. The guy called out to dad and guided him, he had to cross back through the creek and climb over boulders up the 20 foot embankment. By the time he crawled to the top of the embankment he felt like he was fading fast. He was uncontrollably shaking and shivering and so weak. He knew he didn’t have much more time in the cold being wet. The guy being an EMT knew there wasn’t time to wait for an ambulance. He got dads wet shirt off of him and started to help dad into his car. He wrapped him in a foil blanket and cranked up the heat. He was going to meet the ambulance along the way. At this same time a police car pulled up and asked what he could do. The EMT told him to just lead the way to the ambulance. They drove fast meet the ambulance. Dad was still uncontrollably shaking and shivering. The guy, named Jim, talked to him reassuring him he’d be OK. The hospital was about 30 minutes away. At the hospital they got his body temperature up and looked him over for injuries. They couldn’t couldn’t believe he didn’t have any major injuries besides scrapes and bruises. His legs were cut up from climbing over the broken glass and up the embankment. He has small scrapes on his hands and face. His bloodwork was a little off and blood pressure was up. Otherwise there were no injuries.
Everyone in Canada was so kind and welcoming to us. The police went to the tow company and found his phone and brought it to him. My sister Kelly and I took dad back to look for his pants with his wallet. We found it on the creek bank in his pants pocket still. While there, the neighbors came over and were so happy to know he survived. They were sure whoever was in that truck hadn’t made it. They had taken photos and offered to send them to us. Even the tow company was fair in what they charged to get his vehicle transported. We had the nicest lodge keepers in a little roadside motel. Thank you Canada for being so good to us during this tough time.
He knows without a doubt that God was with him and his angels were there to guide him out. He felt them there. There were so many things that had to go right for him to get out of this terrible accident alive. The calmness he felt, the crowbar, the tree branch, the off duty EMT, the police officer… He was determined to not give up. He was so cold, he was so weak, he was so tired, yet he was so strong, so brave and so levelheaded to think his way out of this. He’s my inspiration and my superhero – this event proved it – he walked away. You can get through anything if you don’t give up and you keep God on your side. It’s not the mistakes you make, it’s how you overcome them that matters most.
Kristy – Kristy’s Craft Room