Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Miracle Update

On Tuesday April 22nd I traveled to Ypsilanti to visit the final member of the “Miracle Six” that still remains in the hospital, the driver, Alex Eagling. She had just returned from physical therapy and was pretty tired. As it turns out Alex had much more extensive issues in her neck and back than what originally thought. As she put it, “There is a lot of hardware in there!” and as a result she will be in the hospital for another two weeks. She is looking at an extended rehabilitation process before she is back to functioning how she would like. Her spirits were good and she is very thankful to God for sparing everyone and for all of the prayers that have been offered up on her behalf. Please continue to pray for her physical healing and spiritual well being. She puts a lot of blame and shame on herself over the whole incident, that was in fact, just an accident.

Last Sunday evening, with the high school youth group, we stopped into Joe Mundt’s house to pay him a visit. He was very happy to see everyone. His infection is receding and he is glad to be home. Insurance is covering the van but two insurance companies are fighting over the wheel chair, that is very expensive and was only a month or so old. So Joe’s mobility is limited because a couple of companies are fighting. Please pray for continued healing and a solution to this situation.

The other passengers in the van are progressing along. Last Friday Tim had the stitches removed from his forehead and he his doing much better, still at home from college and happy to be alive. Joey Richter is back in school, still in quite a bit of pain and he showed up last Sunday and went to Joe house. It seems that he and Alex Mirkin and Joe have become quite the pals through all of this and the week in Florida. Alex Mirkin still had the staples in his head on Sunday thought they were supposed to be removed this week. My son Ryan had all but two of his stitches removed on Tuesday and has returned to work, scarred and thankful. Thanks for all of your prayers and concern for these folks and me too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Accidental Miracle

It was like watching a movie in slow motion right outside my driver window in the rearview mirror. Many of you have heard about the tragedy that has struck our youth group with our accident this past Saturday afternoon on our return trip from a Florida spring break trip. We were traveling north on interstate 275 and as I was driving the lead vehicle pulling a trailer and Alex, who is Joe Mundt’s personal caregiver, was driving Joe’s van with Joe in his wheelchair in the back, Tim Obertien sitting next to Joe. In the front was my son Ryan riding in the passenger seat. Two young men from Port Huron Northern High School, Joey Richter and Alex Mirkin occupied the middle two seats.

Two lanes of traffic exit I-275 onto I-94 I was in the right lane and Alex’s van was in the left and as I glanced back in that mirror is when it all began to unfold. I saw Alex’s van make a quick movement right then left and on the second sudden turn it left the road way moving across the soft grass and reentered I-275 where immediately it was met by the front end of a semi-truck. The semi truck met the drivers side of the van somewhere around the front door and it seemed to explode right before my very eyes. All the glass was blown out and it began to roll violently, flipping three or four times. It was about the second flip that I noticed two bodies fly out of the van and a second later the van quit rolling and ended up on the passenger side. During those few seconds of watching I was yelling “No no, no!” slamming on the breaks and throwing the van into park on the side of the entrance ramp I yelled for everyone to stay where they were. I jumped out and ran as fast as I could back to the scene. While running I was still saying “No” and they prayed God please come, please come now! My gut was telling me that I was going to be running up on dead kids and I was thinking that my son Ryan was among them.

The first person that I saw was Joey Richter who was walking around I talked to him for a moment and then told him to sit down. I saw Alex Mirkin who was bleeding from the head and he was coherent and talking to someone. I turned and noticed my son Ryan had blood on both of his arms he was looking for his best friend Tim. As I ran up to him he was very upset that he couldn’t find Tim. I yelled at him to sit down and I reassured him that I would find Tim. I prayed for him that God would protect and heal him and that God would get the glory in this. He started crying for his friend. At this moment I called my wife and told her quickly about the accident and asked her to pray and to call others to pray. As I hung up I looked around for Tim and in the center of the median he was laying on his stomach and not moving. As I ran to him I noticed a large gash in his forehead from above his eye to his hairline that was laid open, I checked to make sure that he was breathing and I fell on the ground and put my hands on his head and started praying for him. That God would heal him and watch over him, protect him. He started groaning and moving trying to get up and I was yelling at him that he was OK and to lay still. It was about this time that some EMT’s came and were beginning to attend to him and they had to hold him down because he wanted to get up in his confusion.

Getting out of the way I went to the van and saw Alex laying in the passenger side door window with blood coming from her head and her right eye was already purple and swollen shut. Alex was conscious, already blaming her self and asking about everyone else, especially Joe. Joe, as it turns out, was laying on what used to be the sliding door to the van, right behind Alex. Yelling to him, he answered me, seemingly able to understand and respond. I reassured Alex that Joe seemed to be pretty good and that everyone was alive. She asked me to pray for her, which I did. I then yelled for Emily, my assistant, who had followed me out of the van to come and comfort Alex while I went and prayed for everyone else. The ambulances and fire trucks were arriving now in force along with a helicopter. I told Ryan that I had found Tim, that he was fighting to get up which was a good sign and that he should pray for him. Two guys that I don’t know asked if they could pray for us so we paused in the middle of I-275 and prayed for God’s help in the middle of this disaster.

I found Joey Richter again and prayed for him as he was being attended to and then I prayed for Alex Mirkin while someone was applying pressure to his head wound (he also had been thrown from the vehicle). I really have no clue how much time had passed when my phone rang it was Peter calling me from Scotland where he had just finished spreading his mothers ashes on a mountainside when he had gotten a text message that something bad had happened. We talked for a few moments and then police and firemen wanted to know who all of these people were and where thay came from and it seemed like Emily and I told everyone’s identities ten different times to different people. There were two Joe’s and two Alex’s in that one van which was confusing for a time. The first one to leave was Tim then joey and Alex Mirkin, and then Ryan. Alex and Joe in the van had to have the back of the van cut off with the jaws of life. They removed Joe and put him on a gurney where I was able to ask him about his injuries. Alex was the last one removed from the wreckage and then airlifted to St. Joseph’s in Ypsilanti. The firefighters had believed that she had been tossed about the cabin but Ryan informed them that he had let her down out of her seatbelt and layed her on the ground before he left to find Tim. Three others were taken to Annapolis hospital in Wayne and the final two to the University of Michigan Hospital. As the helicopter takes off I cried, Emily and I hugged. It was like a dream, a very bad dream. We looked around at the devastation and debris strewn for at least hundred yards and began to pick up identifications and important documents and things of value like laptops and Ipods and everything we could think of that would matter….

Emily and I spent most of the next two days with our spouses in and around Ann Arbor trying to care for the wounded. Monday I said to my wife that was the day that we could have been having a lot of funerals to perform but instead people were getting released from hospitals.

Ryan was treated and released late Saturday night with two cuts that required stitches a mass of bruises and road rash all over his right arm and shoulders and knees and feet.

Joey Richter who was thrown from the vehicle was released Sunday evening with a fractured vertebrae in his neck that wasn’t threatening his spinal chord, road rash a sore lower back and a twisted ankle, he went to school on Monday!

Alex Mirkin, also thrown from the vehicle, sustained a fractured sternum and a punctured lung and some road rash was released from U of M on Monday.

Tim Obertien thrown out up and over two lanes of traffic into the middle of the median into the soft mud, suffered facial fractures that do not require surgery, severe facial laceration, bruised liver, six broken ribs and severe sprained ankle was released on Monday afternoon.

Joe Mundt was thrown out of his wheel chair has a fractured vertebrae in his lower neck that is on the outside of the bone and is not threatening to his spinal chord. Joe developed an infection in one of his wounds on his leg that requires stitches and may be released Wednesday.

Alex Eagling the driver has suffered the worst. She broke her neck and Sunday doctors performed seven hours of surgery installing rods and screws in her neck. Tuesday she walked a few steps and sat in a chair before they took her in for surgery on her wrist that was smashed in the accident. Still Doctors are expecting a full recovery.

As a tribute the six were given superman shirts but God gets all the glory for His miraculous hand in the middle of this disaster. Thank you Jesus for answering the desperate prayers from many people.