It all started with a phone call. I was talking to my sister, Stephanie, on the phone that afternoon while she was running some errands. We were sharing our excitement about our upcoming trip to Niagara Falls and laughing about the fact that she had just bought the same boots as me. I heard a rustling noise, but didn’t think much of it since she had me on speaker phone. That was, until I heard her start to moan. She said the words, “Oh, Kayla,” to which my first response was “What?” She then said, “I just got hit.”
My heart was flooded with panic.
Immediately, I began asking her where she was, frantic to call for help. She continued to moan and said, “I can’t feel my legs.” She wasn’t responding to my questions and continued to moan in shock. My heart was in my throat, and I told her to calm down, all the while knowing I was the one who needed to calm down. Within about two minutes, I heard a man’s voice telling her that help was on the way and asking her if she was alright. She repeated, “I can’t feel my legs. I’m scared.” No sooner did the words leave her mouth than I heard a woman begin to pray and ask Jesus for peace.
My instincts were at war. I wanted to hang up and dial for help, but I also wanted to stay on the phone to make sure she was going to be ok. I had been yelling into the phone, hoping those who were with her could tell me what had happened, but their sole focus was Stephanie. I finally decided to hang up and call my mom since I had heard the man say help was coming.
When my mom answered the phone, I was braving panic as I explained what had happened and begged her to go find Steph. I knew she was scared and would want one of us to be with her. My mom told me she’d find out what was going on and call me back.The few minutes I waited were filled with tension and me repeating the name of Jesus. My mind was racing and I couldn’t form words to pray. My mom finally returned my initial call to tell me she was on her way to the accident.
The next half hour was a blur of phone calls, as I anxiously awaited updates on Steph. My mom had called the owner of the salon where Stephanie worked, who’s husband was on the volunteer emergency response team for the area. They found out from him where the accident was, which spurred my mom to call my dad; she asked him to go to Stephanie’s aid since he was only working five miles from the crash site. I tried to get ahold of my niece’s dad, Mike, so that he could pick Kaci up while my family went with Stephanie to the hospital. I threw some things in a bag, waiting to hear which hospital she’d be going to and wanting to be there with her. And then I got the call, the one I’ll never forget:
Mom: Kayla. It was a semi.
Mom: A semi hit her head on.
My mom could hardly choke out the words and everything stopped. A million and one thoughts were racing through my head, thoughts about survival rates, possible injuries, wondering if she’d ever walk again, and my desperate need to be with her. I immediately called my husband, sobbing as I told him the news. He was home within five minutes, telling me he’d wait with the kids and that I should go.
It took almost an hour for emergency personnel to cut Stephanie out of her car. The entire front of the car was crushed in around her, and the sight alone was enough to make any parent nauseous. The fireman and paramedics were calm and steady as they worked to free her from the wreckage. My dad and brother got to the crash site as they were preparing to start the process; my dad was able to go to Stephanie and tell her he was with her. When my mom got to the scene, she ran. She said by the looks of the car, she knew they were lying about her daughter being alive; she needed reassurance. The rescue workers allowed her to go to Steph’s side, touch her face, and let her know that she was right there with her.
A life flight helicopter was waiting at the scene while rescue personnel worked tirelessly. Stephanie was quickly taken to Akron General, where she was tended to by a trauma team. Meanwhile, I was en route to the hospital, begging God for a miracle and playing Michael W. Smith’s “Sovereign” on repeat, believing that He was good no matter the outcome.
When I arrived, I was ushered to a private waiting room where my mom and I swapped stories, each wanting to know what the other had seen/heard. Minutes passed and we were spoken to by several physicians and surgeons, each one surprised by her lack of injuries. We were finally permitted to see her before she was taken for her first of three surgeries. We cried, kissed, and gently hugged her, praising God for the miracle of her life and asking Him to guide the surgeon’s hands.
My eyes are filled with tears as I remember all the emotions of those few tremulous hours after the accident. I was anxious, yet filled with an overwhelming peace knowing God was present. My mind was unable to form words to pray, but my heart cried out in desperation for a miracle. Fear threatened to encroach on my confidence, but I clung to past evidence of God’s faithfulness in my family.
Looking back on that day, I see God’s hand in so many ways.
He was the One that prodded my heart to pray for protection over my family the day prior.
He was the One encouraging and fighting alongside Stephanie through the song, “King of My Heart,” which she had been listening to on repeat that morning.
He was the One that urged her to call me during that drive. If not for that phone call, we may not have known about her accident for minutes, most likely hours.
He was the One that protected her from the semi, cocooning her inside her car in the most perfect way.
He was the One that brought the right people at just the right time to pray a covering of peace around Stephanie while she was trapped.
He was the One that guided the rescue personnel’s hands to safely remove her from the wreckage.
He was the One that shielded her body, leaving her with so few injuries that even the doctors were amazed.
He was the One that saved her life.