My husband was in that van, in the power chair inside the van when vehicle and chair caught fire. The lift didn't slant to the driveway. It was straight out from the open door. The chair barely moved onto the lift as my husband propelled himself from the chair and off the lift (about 5 feet above the driveway). A passerby pulled him away from the fire, which was intense.
Robert had speed-called my cell from his. "Van on fire. 911. Van on fire. 911." I grabbed our cordless land phone, jammed my cell in my pocket, and hysterically told the 911 dispatcher the van was on fire with my husband in it. (Fire is one thing that terrifies me, not scares me, but terrifies me.) As I hurried out the front door, towers of flames greeted me, the power chair, so engulfed in fire I couldn't see if Robert were still in it or not, and smoke and fire blew toward the house. As I went further out, I saw a man pulling Robert away.
Some tiny part of my mind still worked because I knew I had to move my minivan, which sat next to the burning van in the driveway, its tank almost full of gasoline. Everyone around yelled for me to get away, get away. I told one woman I had to move that van. She told me it wasn't important. I yelled back, "It's going to blow."
When she said, "Then move it fast." I pointed at the clogged street, jammed with vehicles of gawkers, and asked "how?" She ran into the street and had people moving out of the way. Then she held traffic back so I could move the van.
All this time, I'm still on the phone with 911, and the dispatcher is telling me to get away from the fire. As I backed out of the drive, I told him, "I am. I'm driving away." I parked a few houses north of ours, but I don't remember walking from the van back to the lawn to the south of our house where people laid Robert. A woman had pulled her minivan beside him and furnished blankets for people to hold above him, to protect him from the sun.
In time, EMSA arrived, and medics tended to him and to me. I had breathed in heat and smoke. Our son came and took care of questions and forms. The ambulance and EMTs took Robert to the ER at the burn center. Randy drove me, with his wife in her car right behind.
The doctor at the ER was shocked at Robert's condition, not that it was horrible, but that Robert wasn't a crispy critter. Robert had a bad burn on his right elbow and on the back of his left shoulder. He had other minor burns sprinkled around. His hair was singed. The rims of his ears had minor burns. He had a minor concussion from hitting his head on the concrete. He had some scrapes on one leg. He had a bruise inside one elbow. Later he hurt all over, and his back lets him know it was twisted.
The doctor said he never knew of anyone, before, who was in a power chair and a fire who had survived.
Yes, a miracle.
We don't know the names of the people who helped except for one, a chiropractor who came by that night to check on Robert's condition. Dr. Carver had joined the first man to pull Robert away. Dr. Carver will be honored at the Edmond City Council meeting this Monday, October 24, with a commendation for saving a life. We have no idea who the man who first pulled Robert away might be. If he hadn't braved the flames and heat first, Robert would have been more seriously injured or worse.
|All that's left inside|
|All that is left of his new, especially-made-for-him power chair and lift|
KFOR-TV, Channel 4 in Oklahoma City, interviewed Robert and me the next day and taped the damage. However, the story hasn't aired, at least yet. We hope if and when it does that we'll discover the names of the other good Samaritans who helped Robert that day.
I believe in miracles because I've seen them quite often, but September 27, 2011 was definitely one, a major miracle.