I believe there are angels disguised as heroes in our midst. I met one such angel through a family tragedy a few years back. It was a beautiful sunny October day and I was on my way to Nashville Tennessee on business. I called my wife to check in and could barely hear her above the sound of a helicopter flying above our house in Alabama. As fate would have it, the bird carried our oldest son who was critically injured in a horrendous car crash, in route to the emergency room. I don’t remember the one hundred mile drive I made in 40 minutes as I wondered if I would ever see my son alive again. I thought of the many times I was too strict with him. The numerous opportunities I had to tell him how much I loved him, but failed. The precious moments I was losing to my battle with addiction.
When I arrived, my wife collapsed into my arms. The news was grim. I remember talking to the State Trooper who arrived on the scene. He told me my son had lost control of his car while traveling down a country road around 80 miles per hour. The guard rail of a bridge struck the drivers side of the vehicle and went through the engine and hit him in the face. The impact of the crash caused multiple fractures in his head and detaching all bones surrounding his face. They were simply floating unattached. He also suffered ruptured intestines that the trauma surgeons were frantically trying to repair before toxemia and other fatal problem set in. He also had a broken leg and ankle that were considered minor and no threat to his life at that moment.
He was in a coma and the first time my wife and I saw him after the wreck was quite a blow. He was horribly swollen and disfigured with tubes coming out of him at several points. I caught my wife as she fainted, seeing our son in such a helpless condition. I will never forget the sight as she laid her head on his chest and stared at him as if he were the most precious gift in her world. The genuine love and concern that poured from her was incredible. I have never experienced such emotion and adoration before or since that moment. A mother’s love for her child is a passionate and beautiful sight to behold.
As we began our vigil at his side, friends, family, and well wishers began to arrive to comfort us. We heard tales from witnesses at the scene of a hero named ‘Daniel”. Incredible stories of valor and self sacrifice. We asked to meet this young man who was the subject of such admiration. We had no idea that we were about to meet an angel.
Daniel was 16 years old at the time. I recall his humble and quiet nature. Polite and sincere, he changed my life forever. He was traveling behind my son that afternoon and came upon the crash after a few minutes had passed. He saw teenagers frantically trying to get to my son through the wreckage without success. According to Daniel, as he arrived at the driver’s side window, he thought my son was dead. He took off his shirt that was given to him by his grandfather so he would not “mess it up”. He then struck the window with his bare fist with total disregard for his own safety or well being. As the glass shattered from his blow, Daniel reached in to my son. He then took off his undershirt and began to wipe the blood away from his face. When I asked Daniel why he did this, he told me “I didn’t want his Momma to see him all bloody like that”. As he gently cleaned the gore from my sons face, Daniel heard “choking” sounds. As he then remembered training from a first aid class, he inserted two fingers into my son’s mouth and removed what he described as a “clump of blood”. According to the trauma surgeons, what Daniel removed from my son’s mouth that day was his lunch that was forced into his windpipe from the blow to his stomach. My son was choking to death in the wreckage and Daniel saved his life through his unselfish and heroic act of courage. As he disappeared into the chaos of the scene when the rescue units arrived, Daniel had no idea how his actions had impacted the lives of us all.
My son is alive and well today by Gods grace, a young hero named Daniel, and a fine group of professionals. I will never forget the many lessons learned through this tragedy. God works through people and I am grateful for Daniel. God bless you my friend, wherever you are today.