All six of them walked away from a horrific car accident in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- Posted on Feb 13, 2020
Mom pulled the big sedan onto the mountain road, the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. From my seat in the back I gazed up at the pines that towered over us. The cliffs seemed to go straight up, higher than I could even make out through the window. We had been driving for nearly three hours, heading back to Florida from a family camping trip in Williamsburg, Virginia.
I looked back at the pop-up trailer we were pulling behind us, our home for the past two weeks. It had been a tight fit for the six of us—my mom and dad, my teenage brother Alfred, me and my two young daughters, Dawn and Katrina. But we’d managed. The cozy confines had even brought us closer together. We were all experienced campers and hikers—even my girls—so sleeping bags and cooking by an open fire came with the territory. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
I put my arm around four-year-old Katrina and held her against me. Dawn, six, was next to her, and beside her was Alfred. The only disappointment had been that my husband wasn’t able to make the trip. He was a firefighter and hadn’t been able to take off work.
“What was your favorite thing we did?” I asked the kids.
“I liked seeing all the old-fashioned clothes,” Dawn said. “And making s’mores on the fire.”
“I liked the stockade,” Alfred added. “Though I’m glad we weren’t really arrested.”
I laughed. My maiden name was Williams, and I liked imagining that our ancestors might have walked those same streets. I felt a kind of spiritual connection to the place that I could have never imagined. I’d always believed in God and angels, though they weren’t exactly close by. But in Williamsburg there was a feeling I couldn’t fully explain, of being a part of something way bigger than myself.
Mom took the turnoff to head to our campground for the night, near Vesuvius, Virginia. “Mommy, I don’t want to go down this road,” Dawn said.
“It will be okay,” I said. We were old hands at driving in the mountains, even towing the camper. Plus Dad was a stickler for getting the car checked out before we left. There was nothing visibly frightening about this two-lane road. Still, what was it she was sensing?
We headed around a curve, and the road suddenly went sharply downhill. On our right was a steep, rocky cliff that pointed straight up. Across the left lane, a sheer drop-off, with no guard rail. And the car was picking up speed. Something was wrong.
“I don’t have any brakes!” Mom yelled out, the road twisting and turning like a roller coaster. Instinctively I grabbed Katrina.
“Hold onto Dawn,” I told Alfred. Dad sprang into action and pulled hard on the parking brake, which failed to stall the car but was also no help against the weight of the trailer pushing us ever faster. We wove between lanes as Mom fought to steer through the turns. If we went over the side, we would be goners. God help us, I prayed silently. Send your angels.
Immediately the car was flooded with a brilliant, sparkling white light.
“Hang on, Mom,” I said, words spoken without thinking. “God is with us.”
We whipped around a sharp bend. “Look out for the boulder on the right,” Dad hollered.
Crash! My body jerked hard against the seat belt. There was a sickening, metallic scraping sound, as if the car was being torn apart. The next thing I knew I was upside down, my seat belt suspending me midair, the roof of the car against the road.
It took a moment to understand what had happened, that I was even alive. Where was Katrina? I looked everywhere before I spied her below me, sitting dazed on the inside of the roof, which was now the floor. She had a small cut on her forehead, but otherwise seemed fine.
“I got my door open,” Alfred said. Beside him was Dawn, not a scratch on her. In the front seat I heard Mom and Dad groaning. We were all alive!
Alfred came around and managed to get my door open. The girls and I scrambled out. Mom and Dad crawled through the opening where the windshield had once been. We stood there in shock. The car had landed six feet from tumbling over the cliff.
“Did you see the white light?” I asked. No one had, but there was no doubting what I’d witnessed. Not one angel, but an entire heavenly host. In my mind I pictured them protecting each of us, guiding the car, shielding it from reaching the drop-off. God was closer than I’d ever realized. I knew that now.
Within minutes a couple on a motorcycle came by. After ensuring we were okay they rode off to get help. It wasn’t long before a state trooper pulled up and took us to the hospital. Our injuries consisted mainly of scrapes and bruises. Alfred had cracked a couple of ribs from holding Dawn so tightly. But it could have been so much worse.
Williamsburg was a vacation we’d never forget. There have been other difficult twists and turns in my life since. Those are the times when I think of that day in the car, flying through the air, helpless, and am reminded to put my trust in the one who is always there to see me through.
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