Some of you have heard this story already.
Some of you may have gotten the abridged version.
And yet some of you have not yet heard what happened to us last week.
Read on. You will not be disappointed. Here goes...
All we wanted to do was go see our friend Tom's 11-year-old twin daughters play a softball game. Jared and I adore the girls and I will be so blessed if my kids are as awesome as these two are.
Their game was two hours away in Ohio and Tom and his wife Vanessa were going to go to the game and then bring the girls back for a long weekend with them for the 4th of July. They asked us if we wanted to come and we jumped at the opportunity. We wanted to surprise the girls at their game because we knew they would love for us to see them play.
We were excited.
So last Wednesday, we hopped in Tom and Vanessa's van and headed to Ohio. We were about 10 miles from our destination on a semi-busy divided highway when suddenly, we blew a tire.
And really, saying "we blew a tire" doesn't really do justice to what happened to the tire. No, it's more like, "we SHREDDED a tire." Or, "we EXPLODED a tire."
And I'm kicking myself for not having a picture of it.
But it's safe to say that after we pulled over and examined this tire, we knew it was beyond needing a patch. It was done. It had no will go one foot further. It said, "I can't take it anymore! You've rolled me over one too many miles. Goodbye cruel world!!!"
So immediately Tom, Vanessa, and Jared get to work figuring out the jack so we can get the tire off (notice I'm just a bystander here. Not helping. As if I knew what to do... ha!). Meanwhile, we're also devising a plan to get at least Jared, Vanessa, and I to the girls' softball game while Tom gets a new tire. Tom was able to get a hold of his brother-in-law, Brian, to come get us. Yay!
I happened to glance down the road behind us and saw another vehicle pulled over and a man running across two lanes of highway to retrieve the van's hubcap that had flown off in a desperate attempt to survive. This nice man then drove up to where we were to deliver it and to help us.
This man had been driving behind us when he saw the tire erupt. As he passed by in the other lane, he saw Vanessa driving and went to the next exit to turn around, pick up the hubcap, and help.
He was probably in his mid-to-late 50s and was heavyset. He was able to get the van jacked up and proceeded to take the tire off. We all just kind of stood around and watched... any one of us could have done it and would have, but he insisted on just doing it.
So the job is done, we're all standing around, and then it happens.
We all watch as the man who stopped to help us walked over to the guardrail and leaned back against it.
(Now, those things aren't exactly made for you to just lean up against for total support.)
Almost in slow motion, we all see this man lean back, and back further...
...and then he just kept going...
until, before anyone could catch him, he flipped completely backward over the guardrail and his feet were up in the air over his head.
He had landed on his head/neck/shoulders and we all reacted as quick as we could.
Tom jumped over the guardrail to help him up.
We were asking if he was okay... and we didn't get a response for at least 10-15 seconds... I thought, "I just watched somebody die."
Finally, he was able to respond in this gasping-for-air sort of way. He was really struggling and we could tell he was in a lot of pain. Tom helped the man into a kneeling position and we just waited for him to relax.
We asked if we needed to call an ambulance.
"No, no... I'll be okay. I just need to catch my breath."
We asked if we should call anyone who might be expecting him. He had a wedding ring on.
Moments passed and occasionally the man would try to get up, but he just couldn't. He was complaining of back pain. Not a surprise considering the type of fall he had. Finally, we had been waiting with him for some time, when we finally convinced him that we should call an ambulance. Vanessa got right on that.
As we waited, we learned that his name was Stephen.
Gosh, we all felt so bad for him. How humiliating to stop to help someone and now you're the one that needs it. But at the same time, we all wondered if this happened for a reason. You know, did he have a mild heart attack that would have happened while he was driving if he hadn't stopped to help us? Did us calling for an ambulance lead the doctors to finding out that he has a medical condition he didn't know about?
We'll probably never know.
I guess hospitals don't just give out information on people to anyone who asks. Strange.
Brian, Tom's brother-in-law, arrived. And then a sheriff pulled up on this crazy scene. I almost had to contain my laughter when this guy stepped out. He was probably around the same age as Stephen, but he was in shape. I mean, he was a shape. He was a sphere.
Okay, on a side-note, why don't police officers have to maintain a certain physical condition? Just wondering.
Anyways, Bob the Sheriff wanted to know what happened, blah blah blah, so we told him everything. And then the ambulance showed up. The EMTs did their thing and then decided they needed to get him on a stretcher.
And watching that in and of itself was strange. There would have been no way they could have gotten it done without Tom, Brian, and Jared. But, long story short, they get him in the ambulance. Then the question becomes: "What about Stephen's van?" It's still parked with his hazard lights on and his window down.
Bob the Sheriff scratches his balding head and says, "Uhh... you wanna drive it about a mile down the road to this farm off the highway? It'll be safe there."
And he says, "Any one of you got a license?" Tom says, "Yeah." Bob says, "That's good enough for me."
So Bob led Brian driving his car and Tom driving Stephen's car to this random farm off the highway?? And then we hand Bob the keys. That was a strange scenario.
Now, I'm sure you're thinking, "Okay, so they get a new tire on the van, pick up the girls, and go back home."
Right. That would have been the happy ending we were looking for. But no, our fun had just begun. This post is way too long though for me to expect you to hang in here and read it. So I will continue this saga at a later time.