On Sunday, I received a phone call that no one wants to get. I saw the unfamiliar number and answered the phone, hearing something muffled being said and what sounded like our oldest son’s voice in the background. Then the person calling spoke, and it was a friend of ours, a state trooper friend. I first thought, “Why is he calling?” Then it registered; this can’t be good.

He told me our oldest son was in an accident, adding, “I’ll let you talk to your son.” This of course was a relief. Had he been severely injured, or worse, he wouldn’t have been able to talk to me.

“Hi mom. We just got in an accident, and I totaled the car. We were in a rollover on the freeway and landed in the ditch,” he said. I immediately asked if he and his girlfriend, who he was bringing to meet the family for the first time, were okay. He said they were. I asked him if he was sure, thinking there had to be some residual effect from something like that. He said there wasn’t.

He put the trooper friend, who just happened to be one of his high school hockey coaches, back on the phone. Since the car was totaled, we made arrangements to pick them up at a nearby gas station just off I-35, where the accident happened.

My husband and I went to the gas station and waited for them to arrive via police escort. Instead of what could have been a dreadful interaction with our friend, it was a light-hearted, jovial one with a couple honks as he pulled in the squad car. Out came our son and his girlfriend, unscathed. I hugged them both with an embrace tighter than most. I’m sure his girlfriend thought it was an odd first greeting from a stranger, but under the circumstances, it was understandable. Then I hugged our trooper friend with thank yous for getting them both to us, for responding to the scene in a professional manner and for handling the initial phone call with care.

Our oldest explained what happened. He glanced to the side of the vehicle causing the car to swerve. He over-corrected which caused the vehicle to go out of control and into the ditch and roll over. Amazingly, no one was around them on the freeway on a Sunday afternoon heading from Duluth toward Minneapolis.

The car landed on its side. Immediately, a few passersby stop to help, one of which was a full-time firefighter from the Twin Cities. He talked them through what to do, telling them to wait before crawling out of the top of the vehicle. He and some others who stopped helped hold the car up so it wouldn’t tip over as they crawled out of the driver’s side, which was facing upward. Someone mentioned there was a chance of fire or possible explosion as the car was still running, but they continued to hold the car steady as they climbed out to safety. Law enforcement arrived and took over from there.

We found ourselves thanking God for His provision that day; the car was totaled but He chose to keep them unharmed, not one scratch or ache or bruise. The only scrapes were caused when our son went back in through the broken window to retrieve his keys and wallet from the vehicle.

I am also thankful for those who selflessly stopped and put themselves in harms way for strangers. I am thankful for law enforcement. For officers, this accident was something they could smile about. My trooper friend sent me a picture from the scene to reassure us all was well. So often they can’t give this assurance to family members, and I can’t imagine the toll that must take on them and their families.

Things can change quickly. Sunday’s event reminds me of that. Hug your loved ones. Let go of bitterness, be in the present and be thankful for those in your life. I will be putting these words into action even moreso after Sunday.

Traci LeBrun is the editor of the Messenger.

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