An Inspiring True Story
It was going to be a great day for my teenage sons, Alex and Thomas. They had spent Thanksgiving with family and friends in Williston, ND. It was a freezing, windy morning. Snow was blowing across the highway as they headed toward Dickinson, on their way to Bismarck to go snowboarding. Alex was going a little too fast for the dangerous road conditions. Suddenly he lost control as he slid on black ice. He nearly rolled but was able to pull out of it; skidding down into a ditch on the opposite side of the road.
Two men saw it happen and stopped to help. The driver, Mike Donaghue, was from Wisconsin, working in the oilfields away from his wife and two daughters. It was the fourth time that morning that he and Chris, his co-worker, had helped people out of the snow. Two other young men stopped soon after. They all tried pushing the car out but were unable.
Mike decided to get a chain from his truck that was parked at the side of the road. As he reached over the tailgate he was hit suddenly from behind by a car skidding out of control. No one saw it coming or even heard it above the wind and running engines. Mike’s legs were smashed between the bumpers of both vehicles. The impact threw him forward tumbling down the snowy bank. He looked lifeless laying on the frozen ground. They all ran to his side. Alex, fearing he was dead, was overwhelmed with the thought that Mike had been helping him when it happened. He silently prayed “God, please don’t let him die!” He was greatly relieved to see him start moving, then horrified when he saw that one of his legs had been cut off. Hanging from a small piece of flesh was Mike’s foot, dangling, with the boot still on. His other leg was badly broken. Chris grabbed a rope and tied it around the bleeding leg stump. Still bleeding, Alex took his belt and wrapped it again; holding it tight.
Mike emanated a calmness that was contagious. He seemed totally at peace amidst his horrific pain. Only his eyes showed the depth of his suffering. Unable to walk he shortly asked “Could you please carry me to the truck? I’m getting a little cold and light-headed.”
In the meantime 911 had been called. Thomas had gone to check on the driver who was sitting in his car with the air bags popped. Physically fine but emotionally a wreck; he seemed to be uttering a prayer. Opening his door, he fell to the ground, with his face against the snow. Then getting up on his knees he lifted his arms toward heaven and cried out “Why God, why? How could have this happened? I’m so sorry! Please forgive me!” Turning to the men he exclaimed “I didn’t try to. I’m so sorry! I tried to slow down and steer away from you all but I couldn’t.” He slowly stood up and walked over to the open truck door, where Mike sat patiently waiting for the ambulance. In anguish, he sobbed “I’m sorry man! I’m so sorry! Please forgive me.” In his excruciating pain and in total forgiveness, Mike pulled the man down tightly against his chest. Fighting back tears, he comforted him, saying “It’s okay, it’s okay. Do you know Christ?” “I do.” The man answered “I prayed this morning and asked God to keep me safe. Why would this happen? I try to do what’s right and to live a good life. I don’t understand why bad things happen to good people.” Mike, with conviction replied “Just keep praying. Look to God and it will be alright.”
He seemed to completely trust that God was in charge; that there are no coincidences or ‘accidents’ and all was as it should be. Countless things had happened to put each person there, at that exact time and place, for the accident to transpire as it did. Just one small change in any of the details, would have altered the whole course of events. The reality of how precious and uncertain life is was staring them all in the face. All could be lost in an instant and a single moment could change a life forever.
Through the whole calamity Mike showed extraordinary love, courage and faith. He exemplified a strength beyond his own and attributed it to the Lord. He maintained complete composure and displayed incomprehensible serenity through his trauma. In need of comfort himself he comforted others. He never swore, uttered a complaint or even questioned “Why me?” There was no blame placed on anyone, only forgiveness and total acceptance of things as they were. Concerned for the soul of a stranger who might have killed him, he was ready to meet his maker. His life was in order. He was at peace with God, others and himself; therefore all was well, whatever the outcome.
Mike’s outstanding example shows that there are still good people out there who care enough to take time from their busy lives and help others. His love and witness of Christ can impact lives and needs to be shared. Hopefully it will make one stop and think:
What kind of legacy am I leaving? How would’ve I handled a similar situation? Am I using my time to best advantage and making enough difference for good? If I died tomorrow would the people closest to me know how much I loved them? Have I built up enough faith, that when trials come my way, I can act as Mike, and prove myself loving and faithful till the end?