I’ve had two instances in my life where I was literally a fraction of a second from instant death. Both times were so close that I believe it must not have been my time and God saw to it that one of His angels intervened to keep me from meeting a violent end.
Of course I believe that because I was raised in church and I’ve always believed in God. This is a perfect example of the line from the movie The Song of Bernadette, where the local priest says, “for those who don’t believe in God no explanation is possible. And for those who do believe in God, no explanation is necessary.”
The first incident occurred when I was about 8 or 9 years old and my family lived at 405 S. East St. in Anaheim, California. It was a moderately busy street that had one lane in each direction with parking allowed at the curb. I was amusing myself by tossing a paper airplane up in the air and watching as it glided down. My father was home that day which was a rare occasion to begin with. He had parked his car in front of the house at the curb.
One of the times I sailed my paper jet up, it came down and dipped under the front bumper of his car. I got on my hands and knees in front of the car to retrieve it and when I did that, I saw it had kept sliding after it hit the asphalt and was now a couple of feet past his car in the traffic lane.
I was fully aware that you had to be cautious in the street, but like children will do sometimes (and adults too for that matter) I just acted on instinct and still on my hands and knees, stood and jumped toward the airplane all in one quick movement. Likely it took less than a second to stand and jump towards my little homemade toy.
When I jumped, a car was driving by at likely the speed limit of 40 miles per hour. And of course since there was parking in the street, there was never a lot of space between cars being driven and those parked.
Literally a fraction of a second earlier and I’d have been a meat puzzle. It was so close that I felt the car’s side brushing my clothes. The driver of the car had fast reflexes and immediately went into a skid. When he brought the car to a stop, he got out and started screaming at me. He was understandably very upset and probably scared to death by the closeness of the near accident.
My father came out from the side yard when he heard the commotion and calmed the man down by telling him that he would punish me so I wouldn’t ever do that again. He kept his promise and proceeded to wail on me for a pretty good beating. That was my father’s way of handling everything with my older sister and me. But regardless of his manner of punishment, I’m sure he was scared too. He came very, very close to burying his second born child.
The second incident of what I believe was an angel saving my life came when I was working at the Ford dealer in Garden Grove, California. I was around 38 years old and I was the Automatic Transmission Technician there. It was an indoor shop that had forklift type hoists to lift the vehicles in the air to repair.
This particular dealer had a policy that every department would have a helper or apprentice. I had never worked with an actual helper before, but my service manager had hired this guy named Mike to be my helper. He had come from an AAMCO transmission shop and he was not only a butcher that I had to constantly monitor, but I was convinced that he smoked crack for reasons I won’t go into here.
One day I was working at one of the heavy metal benches that were bolted and braced to the block wall that shaped our work area. The hoists were set up so that when you drove the vehicle onto the hoist and lined it up, the front bumper would only be about two feet behind where a person stood at the bench.
Mike had gone out to bring a brand new dark red Aerostar van into the shop where he was instructed to raise it in the air so I could check the vacuum line going down to the transmission. It had not been put on properly at the factory and would only take a few minutes to repair it but it needed to be in the air.
I saw Mike lining up the Aerostar between the two upright posts that held the swinging arms that would lift the vehicle up. In fact he had already pulled it in behind me so I assumed it was where it needed to be and since this happened many, many times a day, didn’t think anything of it.
While I was standing at the bench, a good friend of mine named Neil McLaughlin, who worked in the area next to mine, called me to come over and look at something. I was kidding with him by acting like I was being bothered. I said, “What is it NOW Neil?” as I turned to walk towards him. Within literally a fraction of a second I felt the Aerostar brush the back of my right leg as it drove into the wall ripping the heavy gauge steel bench off the wall and breaking a six foot tall transmission jack which is very hard, very heavy steel. Bent it completely in half and then broke it.
The Aerostar was a total loss. I didn’t understand how close of a call it was until later that day. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, I walked around the back of the van and got to the driver’s door where the window was down. Mike had his face leaning into what was left of the steering wheel after the airbag inflated. He was almost completely without a mark on him. But he was like a little child in that he wouldn’t lift his head until I sent everyone away that had come running over. He said, “they’re all looking at me.”
I shooed everyone away and asked him how in the hell he had accomplished what he did. He told me he hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal. To me that did not explain why he would have stayed in it so long. He had backed the van out to re-align it more center on the hoist plate and was only a car length away and buried his foot into the accelerator for some reason.
Later that day I thought, “if Neil hadn’t called me over at EXACTLY that second, I would never have known what killed me. It would have been instantaneous annihilation".