Monday, October 14, 2013

The day I didn't die.

This past weekend I had one of the most terrifying, humbling, nightmarish experiences I have ever had.

I lost control of my pickup truck on a snowy mountain pass in CO and went nose-first over the edge of a mountain cliff, rolling the truck until it eventually stopped in some trees.

I was heading to Denver to pick up my d-group from my summer project in Lake Tahoe (that was 9 1/2 years ago) when the snowy pass bested me.

I was going slow and being SO careful. I was doing everything my husband taught me. I loved that truck. Cars, trucks, all sorts of vehicles were flying past me over the pass no problem. I don't know, maybe I was being too careful.

The truck hit a slick spot and started to swerve. The brakes, turning the wheel, nothing… nothing helped. 

I suddenly found myself sliding uncontrollably toward the cliff, nose first. 

The nose went over and I went right down with it. The grade of the cliff was so steep that the truck started to roll, driver's side first. Then I was upside down, then on the passenger side, then upright again. 

I don't know if I rolled again or not.

What I do know is that I (fortunately) finally settled in some trees, on my tires, upright and thinking, "Oh my God, I have to get out of this truck. Get me out of this truck!" 

It was braced in some trees, but I was unsure if the truck was going to break the trees and keep rolling.  

It's SHOCKING how many thoughts can flash through your brain when in an emergency situation.

Praise God for adrenaline.

My mind went to my husband's advice for traveling through the mountains and I knew my best bet would be to find an ID, my water bottle and my phone (even though we don't have reception over the pass) and get back up to the road to wave down some help. Luckily, all of those things were within my reach along with my backpack that had emptied when I flipped. I threw those things in there and climbed up (because of the angle of the truck) to the passenger side door. 

It would only open about an inch but no more. With EXTREME care, so as not to shake the truck, I climbed into the backseat and tried to get out that door but it would not open either. My last hope was the small sliding window along the back. I slid it open, climbed onto the bed of our truck, shimmied down the back and using the right back tire, hopped off and landed in snow up to my knees.

Then, I dropped my phone.

Not surprising since I was shaking so bad and constantly repeating over and over, "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, OH MY GOD." 

You can feel emotionally alone, but let me tell you, there is no more lonely feeling then standing knee deep in snow, next to your destroyed pickup (that probably just saved your life), without your cell phone, while oblivious drivers are safely in their vehicles passing out of sight above your head. And, not one human knows where you are.

It was morning. It was cold. No one had their windows open to hear my screams for help.

I begged God to help me find that phone quickly.

By His grace, He immediately answered that one.

Then my concern was being seen/heard.

Every stick/tree I grabbed pulled out. Every rock I grabbed slid down. 

I had been trying to keep my hands as dry as possible to avoid freezing but quickly realized that survival depended on digging into the snow and scaling up this cliff.

I was almost to the road, but slipping, so when I heard a vehicle approaching I reached as high as I could and waved, screaming, "Help me!"

When that car had passed, I used all of my remaining energy to get the rest of the way up and I saw that driver with his backup lights on.

At this point, I'm back on the road, covered in snow and as this man gets out to help, my emotions overwhelm me. 

Hysterically, I try to answer his questions and he calls 911. 

I'm saying over and over, "Oh my God! I just rolled my truck down the mountain!"

The operator speaks to me. More people stop to help. I'm talking, I'm breathing heavily, trying to make sense of this and to grasp my current reality. I look down at my truck and lose it again. I'm nauseous. I'm grateful. I'm terrified.

All I wanted to do was get down from that pass, but no one had the intention of taking me anywhere until the emergency crews came. 

The fire chief showed up and had me warm up in his truck.

Each man told me that in these situations, they are normally extracting a body, not standing next to the driver chatting about what happened. I am lucky to be alive and unharmed.

Then came the fire trucks, you know, in case mine burst suddenly into flames.

We were so remote, it took the tow trucks about an hour to arrive.

And then, because my truck is such a beast, it took two tow trucks to bring it up anyway!

I don't even know how long traffic was backed up for. It felt like an eternity.

When my poor truck was finally back on solid ground, I snapped some pictures.

I truly believe it saved my life. What a tank.
(It doesn't even look that bad, but apparently there is a bunch of damage to the under carriage.) 

Right before they had to hook up the 2nd truck to finish the job.
I was speaking with my dad this morning when he mentioned that there are so many things to be thankful for.

Just to name a few of the ways God was good to me through this:
  • I never hit my head or blacked out.
  • My truck rolled on it's side, not end to end.
  • The side windows stayed intact, not shattering all over me or making it treacherous to climb out the back window.
  • The trees stopped me without going through any windows.
  • My seatbelt kept me right where I needed to be.
  • Because there was no front end collision, my airbags didn't deploy.
  • John had cleaned out the truck so my friends would have plenty of room so there weren't many things flying around with me that could've injured me.
  • This one is weird - we lost Jake's Soc. Sec. card on his first day of school. I found it in the passenger door at the impound lot. (SO RANDOM)
  • The people who stopped to help me actually had cell reception. 
  • My husband, my children, my friends were not with me. 
  • No one else was close enough for the truck to take them out with me.
  • I didn't get cut on any glass. 
  • I had grabbed my best winter coat in an off-the-cuff decision because I thought maybe my friend from Florida would be cold.
  • The State Trooper that came for me has a wife and kids my age and he was very professional and kind and made me feel like he was going to make sure to take care of me. 
  • One of the first vehicles that my accident stopped was a truck with flashing lights from the set of The Fast and the Furious 7 that was filming on the pass. She was able to use the lights to warn traffic that they had to stop for us. 
  • I was able to share a lot about my faith, my life, and camp with the men who came to my aid. The State Trooper, fire chief and tow truck guys should have no doubt that I believe God spared me and isn't finished with me here yet.

My friends were very gracious and rented a car to drive here. We ended up having a wonderful weekend catching up and being able to speak encouraging and challenging words to one another. I love having friends like that. I love that these sweet friends took all the time and effort to get here so we could all be together for the first time in about 4 years. I feel blessed that I have more time to be with people I love. 

I'm only a little stiff in my joints. I have headaches and feel dizzy often and I kind of feel like some words got knocked out of my head sometimes… but I'm all in one piece!

I'm also having a hard time sleeping. My brain replays it all over and over and I'm having some scary dreams. I don't want to be the person who is too afraid to travel on the highway where they had an accident… but geez.

(What are some scriptures you cling to when trying to overcome fear? Please leave a comment with tips!)

The Little Mister went to Sunday school and, after they did their scheduled project, he asked camp's CEO (who was teaching that day) if he could draw our truck being towed. 

I'm actually really afraid that this is going to be hard on him. He loved that truck, too.

For now we are dealing with the insurance company and the reality that we don't have any vehicle we can call our own. There is literally no way we can pay for a vehicle (which is why we currently only had one).

So, as usual, we are in a place where we are waiting on God's provision.

He provided a way for me to stay safe in our truck and to get off that mountain with only a few tiny pieces of glass in my hand and one in my cheek (that didn't even leave marks). Now I just have to wait to see how He's going to provide for us this time!

I hope this post finds you well (and safe!)


  1. Kelley! So glad you are ok! As I read your story, I kept thinking of Isaiah 40:31
    "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint". I believe that he upheld all your strong thoughts during this ordeal and kept you focused. I do so enjoy your blog, and will continue to pray for you and your family! You are a fantastic writer!

    1. That is so sweet of you. Thank you so much for visiting my little space on the web and leaving these kind thoughts! I appreciate you!

  2. So glad you are ok Kelley! I've thought of this verse a lot:

    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
    -Philippians 4:6

  3. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me....Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever" (Psalm 23:4 & 6).

    1. Wonderful. Thank you. Praying for peace today.

  4. From the Psalms: What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee."

    1. Thank you for this. I'm going to look up the reference.

  5. Hi friend. Praying God will send comfort and peace to your heart, and provide for your family's needs.
    Here's some of Psalm 116 you might find encouraging:
    Psalm 116:1-9
    1 I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.
    2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
    3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
    4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”
    5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.
    6 The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
    7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
    8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling;
    9 I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.


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