It was November 21, 2001. The van was loaded, and the kids were inside. I could hear them arguing about the window seats.
I ran back into the house to grab some snacks. As I hurried down the stairs, something stopped me. I felt strongly that I needed to pray.
We had already had our family prayer, so I hesitated for a moment.
Then I bowed my head to ask Heavenly Father to protect us while we traveled.
We were headed to Utah to visit the college kids. We had four kids at home and three in college. We planned to stay with Jared, our oldest son.
I was so excited to have the kids all together for Thanksgiving break. Something about having the whole family together is the best of the best, of the best.
We left Kansas City and headed north to Interstate 80. We had checked the highway conditions, across Nebraska and Wyoming. Light snow was expected, but nothing too bad.
I didn’t want any delays. How I missed the college kids and our huge thanksgiving dinners.
Twelve hours later, we were driving on Interstate 80 outside Rock Springs, Wyoming. We had just switched drivers. Our high school senior was a good driver and a good son. He offered to give mom and dad a break.
The accident occurred so fast.
Our son did everything he could to keep the car balanced, but it went into a spin, slid on its side about 30 feet, and then flipped over, landing upside down.
All that I can remember, while we were spinning, was talking to the kids. “You’re going to be OK, you’ll be fine, stay with me,” I said, as the car flipped and landed upside down on Kelsey’s walker.
I was upside down, hanging from my seat, secured by the seat belt.
One by one I called the kids’ names. “Jeremy, where are you?”
“I crawled out the window mom. I’m outside,” he said.
“Kortney, where are you,” I repeated.
“Mom, I got out. Someone helped me out,” Kortney responded.
Then I asked Josh, “Where are you?”
There was no response. I yelled, “Josh, answer me.” There was still no answer.
“Please, Josh, talk to me,” I screamed.
He replied, “Mom, I’m outside the car, I’m OK, I’m sorry.”
In the back of the van I could hear my special-needs’ daughter, Kelsey, crying, and my husband whispering, “It’s my back, Diane.”
They were all alive. As I stood there on Black Butte, at the top of the Rocky Mountains, I was overcome. My eyes filled with tears.
Within a short time, three ambulances arrived and rushed the kids and dad to the local hospital. I was stranded with our personal belongings, spread across 100 feet of Interstate 80.
One highway patrolman stated that the road was deceiving – several accidents already that morning. It was slick, with light snow, which made for a rapid descent at the curve.
It was horrible, standing there all alone, watching them ride out of sight.
After hearing about the accident, our three college kids rented a van in Salt Lake and drove to Rock Springs. They arrived at Sweetwater Memorial Hospital ten minutes after me.
Kelsey had shards of glass in her hand and hair. Kortney and I showered Kelsey, attempting to remove each sliver of glass. Why, oh why did it have to be Kelsey?
Dad had a compression fracture.
Within eight hours, the family was released. Nine of us loaded into the rental and headed to Salt Lake for Thanksgiving.
It was a warm wonderful feeling, being together again.
I have no doubt that our family prayer, and my brief prayer in the stairway, aided in our protection.
While waiting for the ambulances, Kortney whispered to me, “Mom, I think an angel helped me out of the van.”
I have no doubt that there were angels, protecting each of us, as the van rolled.
Yes, Kortney, I know there were angels present, on Interstate 80.
This was indeed, a Thanksgiving miracle.
Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at Director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.