Christian Living

Spiritual Life

By His Stripes 'I Stand'

At age 32, Pam Morgan’s career in gospel music was gaining national attention, and at home she had two beautiful daughters, ages five years and twenty-one months.  Then without warning, a tragic car accident crushed her dream, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.  Doctor’s gave her no hope.  Only a miracle would bring her back to her feet.

June 4, 2000 -

“91/94, you have a stat run MVA. Your time is 15:51.”

Radio static crackled behind the dispatcher’s urgent voice.
The paramedic grabbed his gear and hurried toward the ambulance at Bates County Memorial Hospital in Butler, Missouri. Bursting through the bay doors, he slid into the passenger seat on a balmy June Sunday where his EMT partner already waited with the motor running. Sirens blared as they pulled away. He recorded the time - 3:53 p.m. - and turned up the volume on the VHF radio scanner hoping to hear more detail from the Sheriff’s office.

“There’s a 1050 on the Miami Creek Bridge, a J-2, possibly a J-4.”

They knew the codes well - injury accident, possibly a fatality.

Pressing calls were the nature of their job. They knew there was no time to waste. Speeding down southbound Highway 71 toward the Miami Creek Bridge, every minute counted. Delays could mean the difference between life and death.

As they neared the bridge, traffic slowed and surrendered to the emergency entourage. Suddenly a white van, flipped on its side, popped into view. Behind it, a battered, roofless utility trailer slumped on 3 wheels. At 3:58 they pulled beside the wreckage and jumped out. A state trooper pointed toward a bloody heap against the concrete barrier.

“Your fatality is over there on the bridge,” he directed.

The experienced paramedic didn’t doubt the trooper’s words as he neared the body. Obviously thrown from the vehicle at high speed, this woman most likely died on impact. He quickly brushed the bystanders aside and knelt down beside her. In all his years of service, he never saw anyone survive injuries as severe as these, but touching the woman’s shoulder, he was taken by surprise.
“Please God, help me...,” she gasped.

I don’t remember my desperate plea for help that day. All I recall is the peace I felt in the hours beforehand. In the prime of my life, I never could have predicted how everything would change in a brief second.

I leaned my head back against the headrest; letting the cool breeze flow over me from the vents overhead.

This feels so good, I thought, I’ll close my eyes just for a minute.

Fifteen minutes later Phil glanced into the rear view mirror as he merged southbound on Missouri Highway 71. I was limp with sleep.  Our five year-old daughter, Kayla, rested peacefully against my shoulder and her eyes bobbed heavily to a close.

So much for conversation to keep me awake, Phil thought. He accelerated to 70 miles per hour and switched to the smoother ride of the left lane, setting the cruise control. The radio was out of the question - too much noise for his resting family. Phil turned the A/C thermostat to the coldest setting.
There…frigid air should help…I can make it.

About six miles south of Butler, Phil glanced at the clock - 3:51 p.m. - right on schedule. He yawned. The steady drone of tires on the pavement was tranquilizing. Phil tried reading road signs, billboards…anything to stay awake. Approaching the Miami Creek Bridge on the right, a large red cardinal painted on the side of a vacant semi trailer advertised a local tree farm.

Phil blinked, struggling to resist his heavy eyelids. He blinked again. And again, slower this time. His eyes lingered shut a few seconds longer. Forcing them open, he flinched to see the guardrail looming directly ahead. Quickly he jerked the wheel back toward the narrow highway. It was too late. The front left tire ascended the metal rail and flew off as it slammed back to the ground. The speed and force of the hit was so extreme, the van toppled over on its side. Phil’s window shattered as it slammed to the ground. Screeching concrete raced beside his ear until the van slid to a stop across the two lane bridge. The bumper barely kissed the creek’s concrete barrier, the only thing that divided them from dropping into the rushing water below.

In an instant, all was deathly quiet except for Phil’s heartbeat throbbing in his ears. Unbuckling his seatbelt, Phil placed his feet where the driver’s window had been and stood on shaky legs. Alisha’s car seat lay face down behind him. Still strapped inside, his twenty-one month-old baby girl was now wide awake and afraid. She started to cry. Phil set her upright and carefully made his way to the back sofa where Kayla hung from her lap belt.

“Where’s Mommy?” Phil asked, releasing his other whimpering daughter and holding her close. I was missing, and the rear left window, now against the ground, was gone.

“I don’t know,” Kayla cried.

“Watch your sister while I go and find Mommy,” he said.

Phil set Kayla down and reached for the doors overhead. Pain stabbed his shoulder, but he ignored it. He had to get out. Gravity pushed the heavy doors closed again and again until rushing adrenaline finally fueled him to fling them open. He forced his six-foot-one-inch, 250 pound frame up through the escape hatch, swung his feet over the side, and jumped to the ground.

Phil found a young woman leaning over my crumpled body against the concrete barrier of the bridge. She and her husband watched the whole thing in horror from the car behind us. Instinctively they pulled over. At the sound of crying children, he rushed to the van. She hurried to my side, prepared to perform CPR, but stopped herself. Although I wasn’t breathing, she knew the slightest movement could be disastrous with injuries so excessive. Only one option remained.

“These babies need their mommy, Lord!” she begged, hearing our daughter’s young, fearful cries.
Within seconds, I coughed and started to cry.

“Don’t move,” the young woman said.

Phil and the girls arrived at the ER as trauma staff wheeled me in at 4:19. Kayla and Alisha were taken into a closed, soundproof exam room twenty feet from me. Phil occupied an adjacent ER bay to my left, separated only by a curtain. He cringed at each moan and wail of pain.

“Why does it hurt so bad?” I cried.

Large hunks of skin and muscle were ripped from the left side of my face and head, exposing my skull. My upper ear was sliced in two. One eye swelled shut, and pieces of my scalp and both eyebrows were gone. Knees, legs, arms…most of the skin that remained were stained black with asphalt.

When I failed to recollect any details of the crash, doctors and nurses feared the worst - brain injury. Although I seemed coherent and passed all response tests with a perfect score, amnesia of the accident and a soft swollen spot on the back of my head raised concern. Transferring me to a specialized trauma facility in the city was imminent.

At 4:30 a nurse wheeled me toward the LifeNet helicopter. She paused at Phil’s bay. Drawing close to encourage me with a reluctant goodbye, Phil was relieved to see that I recognized him.

“I’ll be with you soon,” he assured. “Everything’s going to be just fine.”

Famous last words.

Loading Webform
Get more than a Sunday sermon. Get to know others seeking God’s guidance and wisdom for life.
We are here to help and encourage you! Send a prayer request now, or call 1‑800‑700‑7000
Can God change your life? God made it possible for you to know. Discover God's peace now.
Download the free myCBN app. Share your prayer requests, receive prayer and pray for others!
Living the Christian life is a journey. Discover steps to bring you closer to Christ.
Get Email Updates
Give Now