Finding Jesus in the middle of calm and chaos

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, October 24, 2021

When we rounded the curve we saw them.

Just off to our left, a man was staggering on the edge of the road, mouth open and a blank look of shock on his face. But the most obvious thing about him was the hole in his forehead and the blood all over his face and upper body.

As I pulled the van off to the opposite side of the road — and just past the man — I saw the white car in the trees with steam coming from its crumpled hood and the movement of other people inside.

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I told my children to stay in the van, keep their heads facing forward and pray for the people involved. My wife called 911.

I ran back toward the man who kept saying, “Help my son, help my son.”

I tried to get the man to sit down, but he wouldn’t listen. As other motorists began stopping to help, I hurried down the embankment to the wreck.

It was not good, but no one was dead. To keep this as G-rated as possible, the woman in the back seat was trying to figure out why her leg was badly broken. She was very confused.

The little boy — probably about 3 or 4 years old — was just staring straight ahead. The older woman in the front passenger’s side was yelling curses at the driver — the man standing on the roadside — for daring to wreck. She was waving her mutilated arm and telling him to look at it.

Neither of the women seemed to notice me at all but both were breathing and, though losing a good bit of blood, did not seem in immediate threat of losing their lives.

I called to the boy and asked if he was OK. Could he look at me? He turned his head and did. Can you move? Are you hurting?

He held his arms out to me and I went around to the opposite side of the car and gently took him from the seat after doing a quick inspection of his head and limbs. No visible serious injuries. I carried him to the roadside just as an ambulance arrived.

I handed the boy to a paramedic and told him what I had seen in the car — an EMT hurried down the embankment.

Police officers and another ambulance arrived and we were able to get the man to sit down and let EMTs check him when I assured him his son was being taken care of.

First responders know the weird atmosphere of these types of wrecks — heart-pounding chaos on one side from the yelling older woman, screams of pain now from the younger woman, crying and calls for “Momma!” from the little boy and a still-resistant man struggling to see where his son was in the back of the ambulance. Then the almost quiet calm of the professionals doing their jobs from years of training and experience and hearts of compassion for their fellow human beings.

The paramedic in the ambulance motioned for me and asked if I was an EMT or a fire fighter. I told him I’d only had first aid and CPR training, but I had been (un)fortunate enough to have helped with a few similar emergencies. He said he needed help with the boy and asked if I could keep him occupied while he ran to the other ambulance.

I climbed in and sat with the boy and talked with him as I held his hand. He wanted to know where his daddy was, so I pointed to him and said those men and women were making sure he was OK, then Daddy could come be with him.

The paramedic returned and two others helped the younger woman into the ambulance, her leg temporarily set for transport.

“Momma!” the boy reached for her and she took his hand.

I asked her if I could pray for her and her family. She just nodded, so I held their free hands and asked God for healing, comfort, mercy and anything else they needed. Then I sat with them until the rig was ready to leave.

I spoke quickly to the dad again to make sure he understood his son and the boy’s mom were on their way to the hospital. Then I joined my wife on the roadside and we went back to our children in our van.

They were calm and quiet. My oldest son asked what happened. I told him there had been a wreck and people were hurt, but were being helped. He asked if we could pray for them. Of course, we could.

So we did and then we continued where we had been headed — to church — having already met with Jesus on the side of the road.

News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at