The Day the ANGELS Saved my Daughter’s and My Life!
It was a sweltering, humid, hot day in August, 1996. Annie was 14 years old and starting high school in a new town—her first move to a new town, the first day of high school. To add to the stress, we had just moved to Havelock , North Carolina—well, we were in the middle of moving. To be quite honest, our usually close family was splintered for the first time ever. Our older daughter Ali was in college in another town. My husband Max, Annie’s Dad, was still working in Raleigh where we were moving from. We had our house in Raleigh for sale, and had put an offer in on one in Havelock. Max needed a job down here. I had been working in nearby New Bern for almost a year already, commuting home on weekends! But we had decided when I got the job, to let Annie finish middle school in Raleigh. Therefore, Max, Annie, and Max’s Dad who lived with us, had been in our house in Raleigh, while I had lived in a one bedroom apartment in New Bern for the last year. I was a psychologist, working at the local mental health clinic, but traveling locally, as we served five counties! Now Max was in Raleigh alone, and Annie and I shared my apartment, while Max’s Dad stayed in a nursing home nearby.
On this first day of Annie’s high school, I don’t know who was more nervous, her or me! I so wanted her to like her new school, her new town. I wanted her to make new friends and be happy there. Unfortunately, I discovered that I couldn’t pick Annie up after school as planned, and I was very disappointed! There were clients that I needed to see who just couldn’t wait! It just so happened that another therapist at the mental health center lived in Havelock also, and her son was a senior at the high school and drove. Early that morning I had called and asked if he would please give Annie a ride to my office after school as I wouldn’t be able to get to Havelock, and she could not get a bus or anything to New Bern. He and his mother had kindly agreed!
But then, the last two clients of the day cancelled, and suddenly my schedule opened up! Since I could get away early, I wanted to meet Annie at school, I wanted to hear all about her first day of high school, and her first day in a new place. The kids were still in class, so I just decided to drive on down the twenty or thirty minutes and wait for school to be out. I knew I’d have to find Jim’s car and park near it so that I could catch them before they left. When I got there, I remembered that student parking was around the back of the school, near where some of the buses circled around also. There was nowhere to park near Jim’s car, but I was lucky to pull into a slot tight in the front line of the lot. From there I could keep a close watch on the building, and see them when they came out, then Annie and I would be able to just pull out into the driveway in front of us to leave!
I pulled into the empty parking space, but because it was so hot, decided to leave the truck running and the air conditioning blaring! It was only ten minutes or so until all these kids started pouring out of the building! Suddenly there was a sea of kids all around me, getting into their cars, talking in groups, gathering on the sidewalks and everywhere. I craned my neck hoping to see Annie and Jim, what if I missed them? Good grief!
To add to the stress of this of this exciting but hot, hot, hot afternoon, I was driving my husband’s gear shift truck! My beloved minivan was in the shop, so I would have this vehicle all week! The gear shift itself was not the issue, although I was used to an automatic, I had learned to drive a gearshift when I was like 19 years old and had always loved it!
Suddenly, what to my wondering eyes should appear…my child and our friend Jim, along with many, many other kids! I actually think she and Jim were a little disappointed to see me waiting for them! I should have known better! At that age, peers are everything! But I was dying to hear about her day! She got in the truck, and Jim stood at the window as we all chatted for a while. They were in jazz band together, both played the saxophone, so there was always that in common. I was thinking about the need to ease out into the driveway as there was one lane open for us to use, with the other being full of cars and kids! Like I said, we were idling and chatting, the air running full speed, Jim leaning on the window…when suddenly the truck leaped forward! It was as if I’d suddenly let out the clutch, but I had had the truck in neutral, so the clutch wasn’t even compressed! Not only did the truck LEAP forward, it was gaining momentum so fast, it felt like we were flying! I heard Annie scream as I tried to think rationally. Was my foot on the gas instead of the brake? No! Was I really stepping on the brake, or was that the clutch? Could I pull up the emergency brake? All these thoughts were going through my head while Annie was screaming “put on the brakes, put on the brakes Mom!” I didn’t feel my own life flash before my eyes, but the kids’ lives flashed right in front of me—Annie’s and the teens on the sidewalk. A newspaper headline actually flashed in front of my face instantly that said, “Local Psychologist plows into crowd of teens, killing 10 (or 20) of them! “
Then, we made the first turn to the left, I don’t know how we made it without turning over, but the kids on that sidewalk were safe! However, another sharp turn to the left was coming up, and another group of kids. I could feel the truck accelerating and I began to pray aloud! “Dear Lord, please save Annie, and the kids here! Please Lord, help us, help us! “ I just knew our lives were over! I was worried as to how many others also! I knew I could not make that next turn which was almost upon us! We were flying into tragedy!
Suddenly, things changed! The truck slowed immediately, I was not doing it…something outside of me felt like it had control of the truck…I could have put my hands in the air, I was not guiding that truck in any way, but something was! The truck not only slowed, I kid you not, it easily turned to the left around the sharp turn, then pulled into a parking space that had just opened up on my left and stopped as if nothing had happened! I was too stunned to speak…and was full of thankfulness! I knew as sure as I was sitting there, that we had just experienced a miracle! I KNEW , somehow I just knew, that an angel had taken over that truck and delivered us to safety…and not just us…but all the students in our path! In the course of 300 feet, we had accelerated to something like 40 or 45 miles per hour! How had it happened!? Jim ran all the way to where we were stopped! “What was that? What happened?!” I hesitated, looked over at Annie, then looked at Jim and said, “I really don’t know. The truck just leaped into motion and took off, accelerating all the way!”
Then I looked them both
in the face, and I said,
“I think, no, I KNOW,
an angel saved us!
An angel took control
of this truck and
brought it to this parking place and stopped it! I had no control! It wasn’t me, I wasn’t in charge…it was something outside of me…it had to be an angel! ” After sitting to decompress for a while, I was going to drive us on home. Jim said, “are you crazy! No way are you going to drive that truck! “(He was 18, I was what, 47!) Being from the area, he knew a tow truck owner, and called them himself! I was clearly shaken, so perhaps he thought I’d lost it! LOL Actually, he was a Christian, who later studied theology in college, decided not to be a minister, but became very involved in his church. I’ve often wondered if he remembers that day’s events as we lost touch. The truck stayed in the shop for a couple days, but they could not find any problem with it. To this day, we do not know what happened to it! But as surely as I am alive, I know God sent us an angel to save us, and to save those children that day in August, 1996 in Havelock, North Carolina! Thank you God! Amen!
If you have angel stories you’d like to share with me and others who read this blog, feel free to leave them in a comment for all to see.
Wishing you all a blessed day and life, Helen