My Near Death Experience
I almost died a year ago at 4 am on a stretch of US Highway 87 between Capulin and Des Moines, NM. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the few moments right before I ended up crawling out of the passenger side of an upside down pickup truck. I was dozing in and out when time suddenly slowed to a crawl. The truck started to swerve off of the road to the left and I remember saying, “Hey A!” The driver woke up in shock and jerked the wheel as hard as he could to the right. I remember hearing a whisper that said, “Don’t tense up. Just relax.” I remember feeling surreally peaceful and obliging. Then Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” started playing, we were airborne, and we came to a rest with a loud crunch on the right side of the road after a single roll. I made up the part about the song, but it always plays when I recall my memory of this event.
After the crash, I walked away with a superficial cut on my pinky as the only outward sign that I’d just survived the worse wreck that I’d ever been involved in. No aches, scrapes, or pains of any kind. That’s very surprising considering my friend had the truck in cruise control at 60 or 65, fell asleep, and then reacted in the worst possible way to land us in a ditch following a rolling crash. I am even more shocked that the backseat passenger N wasn’t seriously harmed because he was asleep, completely horizontal, and wearing no seat belt at the time of the rollover. Both A and N were a little sore, but they all crawled out of the wreckage just as easily as I did.
Not long after the three of us confirmed our survival, a truck load of would be good samaritans pulled up to the scene. 5 Guys in their mid twenties hopped out of a red Chevy Pickup and asked if we were alright. The driver shrugged off our mishap by admitting to falling asleep. At that point we were all just happy to be alive. I called these guys would be good samaritans because although they intended well, they didn’t really offer us any practical help because they had a full truck. So, as we’re shivering and wondering what our next move is going to be, a Ford Explorer pulled up to the scene. A went over and started talking to the driver of the Explorer. It turns out he was on his way to Wyoming from Houston and his route took him right through Denver.
A had just lost his truck, the three of us were in shock, and a ride to our destination was before us. We thanked the first group that stopped and said goodbye. Then, we gathered our stuff from the wreckage and took our chances with this random stranger. I remember so many details about this event, but I don’t remember the name of the driver that picked us up. I think that’s so weird. Anyway, even though we were on our way all was not well. I was on high alert following the accident and I started to have misgivings about our driver. I wondered why he picked us up. What was he up to? I wondered if we walked away from that wreck only to end up victims of some madman’s devious plan. My imagination ran completely wild and my adrenaline went into maximum overdrive. I didn’t relax until we got to the Hotel in Aurora. When I was retrieving my backpack from the back of the Explorer, I realized that our driver was a pretty chill dude that took a chance by picking up 3 strangers at 4 am that were standing beside a recently flipped truck. You can’t blame me for being paranoid though. I had just survived a completely unexpected brush with death.
After saying goodbye, the 3 of us had breakfast at the hotel. Those were the best Fruit Loops I’ve ever tasted. We tried to enjoy some fun in Denver, but the tension proved impossible to dispel. I really wanted to go home. A really wanted to stay in Denver. N didn’t know what he wanted. We finally settled on leaving the next morning at about 7 am. It was a compromise because I wanted to go home right after the wreck. J was a mutual friend of A and I from our hometown. The original plan called for catching up with J, going to The Rocky Mountain National Park, and enjoying an impromptu escape. J ended up taking us to get a rental car from the airport and we only hung out for a short time afterwards. After snagging a quick dinner, the 3 of us retired to the hotel and passed out. We awoke the next morning at 6 am feeling rested and ready to hit the road. I showered, grabbed some breakfast, and we were on our way out of town. The trip home was much more uneventful, but that didn’t stop me from being on edge until I was within a few feet of my front door.
What’s the legacy of this event? I don’t take my mortality for granted. I am still acutely aware of the fact that I can die at anytime. My drive was permanently enhanced following my near death experience. My focus remains sharpened. I am determined to live my life to the fullest. Most importantly, I got yet another of my many reminders in my life that God is intimately caring for me and securing my path even when I do everything I can to destroy that security. I could have died that night and none of my loved ones would have known what happened to me for days. I’m blessed that I don’t live with any regret stemming from the accident. I’m very grateful for the crash because it really enhanced my vision and my ability to discern what is actually important in my life. The crash changed me forever. Almost dying will do that to a person.