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The Daly Planet

Relief Drivers

The Miracle Man
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By Guest Writer John Ferguson | 11/25/2014
Category: Relief Drivers

It was a beautiful day in Naperville, Illinois on Wednesday August 27, 2014 at 2:15pm.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the temperature was very nice.  I was on my way to do a little shopping, with my wife in her own car just ahead of me, on her way to another store.  I was travelling south on Illinois highway 59, a very busy four-lane road with two lanes each way and a median in the middle.  I was going 45 mph in the right lane, travelling the speed limit and minding my own business.  That’s when it happened.
My first memory is waking up to realize I'm in a very bad crash.  My vehicle is rolling; I'm being tossed about.  I had no idea how I got in this situation, I blacked out upon impact for a few seconds.  I knew I was rolling, so I said to myself several times “please land on your wheels, please land on your wheels,..."  I knew I might be trapped if my car landed on the roof. Then I twice hit my head hard to my left and wondered why it didn’t hurt.  Amazing how much stuff can go through your mind in such a short time during a crash.  Looking to my left and seeing a giant air bag, I thought, “Oh, I reckon that’s why my head didn’t hurt.”  As I saw the windshield caving in, I hoped it would hold together and not cut me to death.  

The vehicle finally came to rest, and I hung there for a few seconds, trying to figure out what to do.  The vehicle was resting on the passenger side.  I heard some lady yelling at me,  “Are you ok? Are you hurt?”  She kept yelling at me and I couldn’t figure out who she was and why she was yelling at me. I started calling her “The Yelling Lady.”  Then I heard a very loud thump, and looking to my right, I see a man kicking the sunroof over and over. His name: “The Kicking Man."  While he is kicking hard and the lady is yelling at me, I realize I need to get out of this vehicle in case it catches on fire.  Forgetting what I learned in school about the force of gravity, I release my seatbelt and fall hard on the sunroof.  The Kicking Man kicked again very hard and I felt it on the right side of my body.  I screamed to him to stop kicking.  He stopped, but yelled at me, "We need to get you out!!!” I knew he was right, but I had another idea.

The Yelling Lady hollered that she'd notified the emergency folks of a bad accident.  I had determined she was speaking to me from the Safety Connect system in the vehicle (Toyota's version of OnStar), and I told her I was getting out NOW. I didn't hear anything she said after that. With everything sideways, it took a moment, but I found the sunroof releases, pulled it, and was grateful that it worked. It worked! I crawled out of the sunroof and stood there.
By that time there were four or five Good Samaritans standing there ready to help.  The Kicking Man looked at me and asked if I was okay. Looking at myself, moving a few things around, I said “I think so... I'm ALIVE!”.  

Assured I was relatively okay, he said “Dude, that was just like a NASCAR Talladega wreck! You rolled five or six times! I'm amazed you're standing here alive!”  I asked him if he was the one trying to kick in the sunroof and he said yes.  I embraced him in a teary bear hug and thanked him for trying to save my life. He asked if there was anything I needed, but all I needed at that moment was to call my wife.

I found my phone in my right pocket, wondering how it even got there. I never have my phone in my pocket when I drive -- I always put it in the console. Somehow, though, there it was in my pocket when I needed it most. I called my wife with the news, telling her there was no need to worry, and that I was okay. The best wife ever, loves me like no one else, she tells me she's on her way.

I asked The Kicking Man about the other driver, and he pointed her out to me. Walking over to her, I see her van completely smashed in the front, Martinsville style.  Asking about each other's condition, and both being okay, nothing else mattered except that we're both alive. Hugging, crying, celebrating, and ALIVE. Both of us.
Walking back to my vehicle, a Paramedic gets in my face and starts a rapid fire list of questions.  Name?  Where do you live?  Do you know what year it is?  Who is the President?  I answered them all and he said this is good news.  

When my wife arrives, we hug, and we cry.

I look around and see first responders - the real heroes in life - crawling all over the place.  I give a statement to the police, get completely checked out by the paramedics, walk around my vehicle to get a last look, and shake my head that I was able to survive. Then I climb in the ambulance.
Walking in the back entrance to the Emergency Room at Edward Hospital, the first nurse  asked who the patient was. When I said it was me, her eyes got wide and she asked, "You're the one that rolled your car just now?” When I said I was, she said she'd expected me to roll in on a stretcher! Soon after, there were more medical attendees than I could count, more of life's real heroes.
After a few hours in the ER, I'm admitted overnight for observation. Nothing seems to be life threatening, but the list of injuries is extensive. Severe blunt trauma to 100% of the muscles in my back; severe blunt trauma to my right and left ribcages resulting in  fractured ribs on both sides; multiple contusions on my arms and legs; various cuts; a bruised pancreas; elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose levels; and generally hurt all over. I was banged up pretty good, but I was ALIVE!
During my 19-hour hospital stay, I was visited by no fewer than 15 doctors and nurses. They'd come to see with their own eyes if the stories they heard were true. They hadn't been assigned to my care, but had just stopped by for a chat.  One doctor said I was being called “The Miracle Man” by everyone.  I told him I agreed with that label.  

Then a very special nurse came in.
An awesome caregiver, she was my early morning nurse. After the usual checking of vitals, she sat down next to me in the visitor's chair.  Looking me in the eye, she said, “There's a reason you didn't die yesterday, do you know that?”  I said yes, there has to be.  She said, “I don’t know if you believe in God and I'm not going to preach to you, but God has a reason for you still being here. To find out the reason, find some quiet time alone, and just listen.”  I thanked her.
I shut the door, pulled the blinds, and turned off the light.  I sat there in the quiet for an hour, and listened. After a lot of crying and shaking, I knew what the purpose was.  My new life mission was to share my story with as many people as possible, helping them to understand the importance of wearing a seatbelt. I was especially drawn to tell my story to teenagers.
Two days passed and human nature kicked in.  My passion for telling my story had already started to wane.  That's when news came that our two grandchildren, ages three and four, were in the back seat of a car involved in a wreck.  They had only very minor injuries because they were strapped in well with seatbelts and car seats, but it hit me like a brick, and the story-telling passion returned.
Later I was told the other driver simply didn't see my vehicle, but on impact, it rolled five and three-quarters 5.75 times, and a total of 152 feet or a little more than half the length of a football field.  It was a loaner 2014 Toyota 4runner, complete with tons of airbags, auto fuel shutoff, and seatbelt auto tensioning which locked my body down for the duration of the accident. And The Yelling Lady to call for help.
I've told my story more than 50 times to nearly 200 folks, the best being the time I shared it with a group of 12 teenage lifeguards at our neighborhood pool. Maybe that opportunity saved a life.
I've heard at least a dozen excuses why someone doesn’t wear a seatbelt.  My three favorites are – a) the government isn't going to tell me what to do; b) I'm a careful driver;  and c) I'm driving less than five minutes. I reply: a) The government also tells you not to rob banks. Are you going to rob one today? b) I was careful too, never saw the other vehicle; and c) Most accidents happen close to your home.
Slowly, I continue to heal, both physically and emotionally.  My message is not to tell you what to do - we each make our own decisions. I just ask you to consider my story and  how differently it could have turned out for me if I'd made a different decision that afternoon. Consider your own life and those you love, and when you see your seatbelt hanging there -- make a good decision.

I am John, 57 years old, and they called me The Miracle Man when I survived a horrible crash because I wore my seatbelt. I survived -- will you?



11/25/2014 10:26 am (1)
Thank you for not only for sharing your story, but also for listening to God as He wants you to continue to share it.

I always wear my seatbelt, because when I was in 6th grade, a classmates mom died in a crash where she wasn't wearing one.

Glad you are ok, John, and yes, God's still got plans for you. :)
11/25/2014 1:02 pm (2)
Wow, keep telling your story..it is important.
12/09/2014 8:21 am (3)
Thank you for telling your story. My 20 year old son hates his seatbelt. At one point I took his car away b/c he wouldn't wear it, so he made a point to wear it whenever he thought I might catch him. But he finally learned the importance of wearing it. Thanksgiving weekend of 2013, he was riding with a friend back from college in Rapid City, SD. They were driving 6 hours to get home. He called me to let me know that they had stopped for supper. 5 minutes later, he called to tell that they had wrecked. They were doing 75 mph on the interstate (the speed limit) and hit a deer, lost control, went off the interstate and rolled multiple times into a field. The only things left in the car when it stopped were the 2 boys. He had on his seatbelt b/c the car was "dinging" if he didn't. He survived b/c of that annoying sound. Both boys were stiff and sore but didn't need medical attention and they were annoyed that they were covered with sticky root beer and lemonade b/c the drinks that they had just bought went everywhere when they rolled. Please keep telling your story. It was a very thankful Thanksgiving weekend for us, but not every family gets that lucky.

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