I recently had the chance to spend several days with a young men’s group on a high adventure trip where we spent several days rafting near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. With the help of several other leaders I was the trip leader and it was my responsibility to teach the rest of the group how to safely navigate the river.
On the way to our campsite we drove through Soda Springs, Idaho, which just happens to be the town I grew up in. We stopped at the famous man made Soda Springs geyser and also took the boys to Hooper Springs which is where the famous naturally carbonated “soda water” comes from.
At each of these stops we would share a story or message with the boys. The message I shared that afternoon was about something my dad did when I was about 9 years old.
My dad worked for the Forest Service and loved the mountains. Many people who worked with him know him from their time working on forest fires.
I remember a morning in early summer where my dad wanted to take our entire family to see the fish that were spawning just north of town where we lived.
The roads north of Soda Springs are windy and very fun to drive. There is one particular hill and turn that can be very dangerous if taken with too much speed.
As we came around the bend on that day, we saw what was at least a dozen vehicles stopped along the road and at the bottom of the hill there was a cattle truck that you would use to haul 2-4 cows laying on its side. There were at least 3 cows walking near the truck eating grass.
The truck had apparently taken the hill with too much speed and as it turned to the left at the bottom of the hill, the cows had shifted their weight in the back of the truck and it had been just enough to cause the truck to tip on its side. This was long before cell phones had been invented and EMS was at least a 25 minute drive from our location.
My dad quickly pulled over, asked us to stay at the car and then ran to see how he could help.
What we didn’t know at the time was that there had been a young man sitting in the passenger seat, without a seatbelt, that had partially fallen out the open window as the truck tipped and was pinned underneath the truck. He was alive but being crushed by the weight of the truck.
We found out later from my dad that the bystanders had been trying to lift the truck with a small car jack to save the boy but it wasn’t safe to try and crawl under the truck to free the pinned boy. I may not ever fully understand the details of what happened, but later we were told that the my dad volunteered to crawl under the truck while the bystanders on the side of the road lifted.
He was able to free the trapped boy and pull him to safety, trusting in the strength of the bystanders and what I believe was likely several angels who were holding the truck that day.
We later found out that the boy survived and had spent many months in a full body cast. He was expected to make a full recovery thanks to those people who were willing to stop and help a stranger.
After the ambulance arrived and took the boy, my dad came back to the car, washed blood off his shirt and hands and we drove a few more miles down the road and we saw the fish spawning. I could tell he was a bit rattled at the time but as a 9 year old I don’t think you fully understand everything that might be happening around you.
When I drive past this spot on the road, I’m reminded of this day and think about how we never know when we’ll be given the opportunity to help someone. When situations come up, will we be the person that eagerly steps forward, volunteers and says they’ll risk their own life to help stranger? Would I be willing to trust a handful of strangers to hold a truck while I tried to save a boy who was being crushed? Will we stand with the angels on the road and be willing to do what we can to help? Or will we watch from the sideline and hope someone will come along to help?
I hope I’ll always end up being one of the first to volunteer, encourage those around me to join the effort and be there to help when a hand is needed.