Had one of those heart-stopping moments last evening headed home from town. I like to drive a scenic route past the Crow River ( it is a concrete paved county road), it is quite pretty most of the time with the view of the river winding its way through the countryside. It comes fairly close to the road in one spot just after crossing a bridge toward the south. Well, last night as we were crossing the bridge, just ahead I suddenly saw a flash of silver cross my lane and then a puff of snow. A van had lost control and skidded across the highway and landed in the ditch upside down next to the river. I can't explain clearly the inordinate amount of time it seemed to take for me to get my SUV pulled over and parked and fly out the door, ( meanwhile Matt is dialing 911). It seemed to take forever to fight my way through the snowdrifts to get to that car. Horrifyingly, I saw 2 children dangling from the roof, strapped into their carseats at the back of the van, and the undercarriage ( which was facing the sky) appeared to have smoke coming from it. I am sure now, it was steam from the plow into the ditch, but, at the time, all I could think of was the van was going to start on fire...
As I looked at the vehicle, I saw what I thought was someone ( looked like a guy ) appeared to be unconcious in the front seat. I headed for the back since I could see the kids were awake and quite scared, I am on the phone with the 911 dispatcher trying to give her all the information I can, at the same time trying to bend into that van with my damn bad knee, and get those boys unstrapped from the car seats. I can't undo the car seats, don't have enough power in my arms ( I am still trying to get the strength back from before my riding wreck). But, a neighbor of mine has stopped also, and he is working to free the trapped kids, so I head to the front of the vehicle, drivers side, and try to open that door to check on the driver. The snow is so high, I have to beat it down with my feet in order to open the door, as I am working on the door, the driver is kicking it open on that side, and we are able to get her out. She appears uninjured, and I head back around the side to where the children are being rescued. My neighbor has them out and we get them all up to the side of the road. In the meantime, at least 3 cars have stopped to give assistance, I am too busy with 911 and trying to assess people to worry about who is up there, but, as we get the uninjured family to warm cars ( the high yesterday was 10 degrees F.), I have to start putting 2 and 2 together. The dispatcher is asking for descriptions of cars the family has been seated in ( probably for EMS to find them easier) , and names of people who are on the scene, I start to recognize faces. There is the county attorney, she has stopped to help, the secretary from the local extension office, a kind man I have no idea who he is, and then my neighbor and myself. I think to myself, only in Minnesota... people stop to help in subfreezing weather, they don't continue on minding their own business, they pitch right in and help. I appreciate the integrity of people who, out of the goodness of their hearts stop and help, there is nothing in it for them, no hero badge at the end of the day for helping people, no accolades from anyone, just an honest to goodness desire to help out their fellow man. I LOVE MINNESOTA!!!!!! After law enforcement arrived, and EMS was checking out the victims (* they were all totally uninjured, the unconscious person I thought I saw wasn't one, it was the driver's purse hanging over the seat, amazing what one sees in crisis it certainly looked like a face to me), the opportunity presented itself for us to continue on our merry way ( if one can think, merrily after that experience anyway...), my neighbor waved goodbye to me, I gave the lady a hug and wished her luck, I told the little guys see ya. and off we drove into the sunset. As we were getting ready to drive off, one of the deputys came over and I recognized him as an aquaintance from my home town, ( he graduated a couple of years behind me), he stops me and says with and grin, " And we live in Minnesota, WHY?" Well, I tell you, it is because of the Minnesota Nice, not the Minnesota Ice!!!
So, once again, my guardian angel was hard pressed to keep me safe, just 10 to 15 seconds further down the road and we would have been directly in the path of that vehicle. I have said many prayers of thankfulness the past days, but, last night I couldn't help but, almost pray thankful prayers no stop after that adventure.
I am still seeing, the flash of silver crossing my line of vision, and the puff of snow as the vehicle landed, when ever my mind has the chance to wander, I hope I don't continue to relive that split second for a long time.
So, here is my shout out in appreciation for all the people who stopped to help, my neighbor who was strong enough to rescue those scared children, the driver who was so brave even though that had to have been a very scary moment, those brave little boys who didn't cry or scream, the people who stopped to help and got the family into their warm cars, EMS who even though they were doing their job came quickly and worked efficiently, the Sheriff's dept who also arrived very promptly and quickly took the information they needed from us to make a report, my son who had the presence of mind to call 911, the good Lord for keeping everyone safe.
I know people in other places work just like this, I don't mean to belittle other states, provinces, countries, worlds, it is just that Minnesota prides itself on its motto of "Minnesota Nice" and this was my opportunity to tell my experience of it.
Blessings to all, and drive safely!!!!