Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tragedy Averted

It's been too long since I've posted, so knowing we were going to be spending the weekend at the river for my traditional birthday celebration, I figured I'd wait and show some of the traditional birthday festivities.

Mom loves to go all out.
Remember when I wrote about the money "shirts" and the gifted cemetary plot at Easter? I knew I'd have another story to tell after the weekend. But never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be this. But let's start with a picture of the view from Mom's living room window, because the weekend started out beautifully serene.

he amazing grace of God entered a riverside park in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin as we completed our church service this morning.

It was a beautiful, though unseasonably cool summer Wisconsin morning, and St. Peter Lutheran Church (the one Mom attends while she lives at her trailer on the river summer home in Wisconsin) was having its very first outdoor service. There were about 200 people gathered in the park and under and around the gazebo. The praise band was at one end of the gazebo, their backs to the river, so the congregation watched them and the pastor's message whilst the Mighty Mississippi lazily flowed and the lush trees on the Iowa side of the river served as a gorgeous backdrop.

My mom, Ron Burgundy, Abby (my new daughter-in-law) and I pondered where to sit. At first we were going off to the right side of the gazebo, then
Mom spied some friends off to the left, so she wanted to sit behind them. We parked our lawn chairs and it was a perfect spot. Little did we know at that time how perfect it would be.

About 20 feet of space stood between the band
and the wrought iron fence that served as a guard rail to the river, which was about a 50 foot drop below. The way the river is dredged and the retaining wall is built, there is no shoreline. The river is very deep, probably as deep as the main channel, which is about 9 feet - deep enough to allow for barge traffic.

After the band played their final song, pastor said "Go in Peace, Serve the Lord," Abby and I got ready to stand and immediately heard a horrible crashing sound. Within seconds, we saw a car quickly heading down the hill on our right toward a crowd of people, crashed into a picnic table next to the gazebo, splintering wood everywhere, swerved and drove behind the band, hit the iron fence leaving an open gap, then quickly turned toward the crowd again, as if going in an out-of-control circle.

And then, just a foot away from another picnic table it stopped. People were run
ning and scattering everywhere. I called 911 on my cell phone, and when the operator answered I told her what had happened. She asked me where we were and I went blank, but I looked up and right in front of me was a sign on the gazebo "Lawler Park Shelter Reserved for St. Peter's Church..." I don't remember seeing that sign earlier, but it was obviously there in the picture.

Fortunately, only one person was hurt - an elderly gentleman who had wand
ered over to the park from the Fireman's breakfast to visit with friends. He was pretty shocky and was having a lot of pain in his legs and hip. RB sat and held his right leg and others sat there also trying to calm him while we waited for the ambulance. The lady driving the car was very shaken, but apparently not hurt. As expected, she felt horrible about the incident and couldn't explain what happened.

Had we put our chairs in the initial location we chose, we would have been directly in the path of the runaway car.

And had Floyd, one of Mom's friends, not spotted Ron Burgundy across the gazebo and was making his way over to greet him, he would have been in the exact spot where the side of the gazebo was smashed.

In no way do I consider this a brush with death. Merely another brush with life.

Oh, the plans God has for us.

When I think of all of the children who were there just seconds before the car went through, the youth group we prayed for as they head out on a mission trip, the elderly who couldn't move very quickly to get out of the way, and how that lady's car avoided going straight down that 50 foot rock wall into the river, it's nothing short of a miracle that only one man was injured.

I'll leave you with a few more light-hearted birthday memories that pale in comparison to the relief we all felt when the park incident was over.

Mom baked me a birthday pie instead of a cake. I don't eat cake much. Actually I don't eat pie either, but the special peach pie was mostly for Ron Burgundy.

Rather than the traditional "
shirt," Grandma had way too much time on her hands and decided to tape my birthday bills together end-to-end. Abby and I tossed the roll back and forth across the room to see exactly how long a ribbon of 58 bills is. Very. Long.

Ben joined us this afternoon on his way back from a softball tournament. That little boy (I don't see him as a grown man with a bride just yet) sure loves the river! I still see him toddling down to the dock with Grandpa and his fishing pole. I think he does, too.

And then a final parting shot on the bluff before we hopped in the car and drove safely home.

Tea today: Tazo Zen


vanilla said...

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! How blessed you are: a wonderful birthday celebration in a beautiful place, some excitement, and God's hand of protection over you. May you have many more happy birthdays!

Annie K said...

Wow. Just wow. There were definitely many guardian angels hovering over the park that day.

Helen said...

I am so thankful that you are all right, and I hope the man who was injured has a full recovery.

Billy Coffey said...

Goodness, Candy. You've had way too much excitement in your life lately. Glad everyone was okay!

Alix said...

Wow Candy! Your stories are always amazing and have me glued on the edge of my seat. How can so much cool stuff happen to one person while the rest of us (me in particular) are relegated to blogging about our accordion skin.

I am so relieved that nobody was killed and almost everybody avoided injury. What a scary encounter.

Happy birthday, sweet friend. And thanks for the incredible gift of your storytelling. said...

Not a brush with death, but a brush with life...

What an awesome outlook on the event. So true.

Thanking God for your safety and praying for that dear man.

What a neat lady your mom is :)

~*Michelle*~ said...

WOW! What a day, huh? I love how God knows how to orchestrate our every move.....and I also love how you give Him the glory. Awesome!

Your mom has the kindest eyes....

Happy Birthday!

Wendy said...

Okay, how did I not see this post before?

I'm so glad that so many miracles occurred that day! God must have had His angels working pretty hard. How can anyone look at something like that and just call it a coincidence?

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