To Whomever Reads This:
I had this testimony typed and ready a few days ago when it was very fresh on my mind and the emotions were high. When I went to finish it, it deleted. I didn’t have the energy or emotional capacity to start this again right away. I am not the most eloquent writer, but I felt compelled to tell the story anyway.
This has been difficult. Therefore, it has taken me a long time to re-write this. Sadly, there is this delay and some of this may be old news to you. However, I did feel it was important to write it out and share this incredible and miraculous story. Even during the challenges, we are facing it provides some encouragement that GOD is still in control. Please take this and share it. It offers hope and encouragement. God still does miracles today…….
Monday was a very difficult day, but we didn’t know it would be at the time. Sunday evening, we decided we should take our Monday family day at the Olympic National Park tide pools on the Washington coast. We planned it so that we could be there, right at the lowest tide point. We were excited to see some starfish!
To get to the tide pools we had to hike about a mile down to the beach, across the sand, and over to the rocky tide pool area. Once we arrived some of the older kids dispersed to explore. Chris, I, and the littles hiked up a rock about 20 feet high to see the view and scope out the best tide pool viewing spot. Chris was holding Serenity at the time. We looked around and spotted some colorful starfish below and decided that was the direction we wanted to go. With Serenity in his arms Chris took the first step towards the tide pool and his foot began to slip. He felt like he was sliding into the splits. He lost his footing and smacked his right hip on the rock. He said he felt and heard it crack immediately upon impact. He began to roll down the 15–20-foot height with Serenity over and over. As he and Serenity rolled, he would wrap his arms around her and tuck his head over her to shield her from impact. I would see him, then her, then him, then her, as they toppled over one another. I screamed their names. I screamed for someone to help them. I saw them roll and slam into another boulder on the way down bouncing off and then finally landing into a few feet of tide pool water below.
Chris quickly lifted Serenity up out of the water. He said, he wanted to get her the help she needed as soon as possible. He held her high out of the water and handed her to the first person available who happened to be our good friend, Gordon. Gordon immediately handed her to Hallal who checked her out to make sure she wasn’t broken or bleeding. After that, Hallal passed her to Barak who held her until I could hike back down and take her from him. Once I got there, I held her close and cried. She was soaked up to her neck in ocean water. Although I was still in shock and shaking, I knew we needed to get the wet clothes off her as quickly as we could. Our friend Sarah sent her daughter on the mile hike back to the car to get a diaper and a blanket. In the meantime, Sarah took off her hooded sweatshirt and put it on Serenity.
Serenity was crying and scared; she was very concerned about Chris. I held her and assured her that daddy was going to be okay. I asked Judah to take a picture of Chris so I could show Serenity daddy was okay. After she saw the photo, she stopped crying and I held her close the rest of the time.
In the meantime, Chris remembers looking at his leg floating and wondering if it was still attached to his body. He made sure he could wiggle his toes and then realized he needed to get to a dryer space. Gordon and Barak helped lift him onto a dry rock that cradled him next to the tide pool he fell in. They wedged shoes and boards under his leg to support it. He remained there for an hour in excruciating pain waiting for medical help to come. None of us could get reception to call 911. Several people tried on their phones with no success. Then a precious Jewish family on vacation were able to get through. They called 911 and while the wife and kids helped us the husband hiked back to the parking lot to wait for the EMS team.
Eventually, a man named Charlie who was on vacation from New Mexico showed up on the scene and sat next to Chris. He let Chris lean on him the whole time he waited in the tide pool. Chris said it was so helpful to have someone support him while he sat there.
Since it was so slippery, my sons took their shoes and socks off to be able to grip the rocks better. They didn’t want to slip while helping Chris. One of my sons even had cuts and blisters on his feet from running back and forth across the beach to the parking lot. At irregular intervals, one of them would come to relay messages from Chris like, “I love you” and “I am okay.”
I prayed that God would send angels to help.
About 45 minutes after calling 911, a Sheriff showed up. He maneuvered down into the tide pool area with Chris and the others that were down there. He assessed the situation but wasn’t a medic so he couldn’t administer any pain meds.
Soon after that another family showed up on vacation from Kansas. John just happened to be a Firefighter and Paramedic for many years. (We don’t know his name, so for ease we will call his name John). John went down to assess the situation with the others. He was able to help Chris with some of the initial assessment. Since Chris has had Paramedic/Flight Paramedic knowledge for years, Chris was able to confer and give some directives to those who needed it.
John’s wife just happened to be a pediatric nurse and she came to assess Serenity and tell me what things to watch for if she needed medical care. She felt like Serenity was doing okay.
At some point another family showed up that was on vacation from Ohio. The father of this family just happened to be an orthopedic surgeon. (We will call him Mark) Mark specialized in the same area that Chris injured. He told me what he thought, and the process Chris would be going through and encouraged me that it was going to be OK. He joined the men that were in the tide pool to help Chris and assisted in formulating the plan to get him out.
Once the men with Chris saw that the tide was starting to come in, they had to come up with a plan quickly to get him out of there and onto the beach. They asked for as many men around who could help. Upon request, the men who had them gave up their cloth belts to strap around Chris so they could hoist him out of the tide pool.
Once the straps were around Chris’s body, about 6-10 men formed a conveyor belt style line.
Chris says he was body surfing. They hoisted Chris two by two out of the tide pool. Two men grabbed the belts and passed him to the next two men. Then they would go to the back of the line and wait for him to be passed again. They all rotated like this until he was off the rocks and onto the beach. Once they laid him on the beach, they built the sand up to brace around his leg and hip so that he could rest it while laying there.
Shortly after they got him onto the sand the local EMS team showed up and assessed Chris. They put a retraction splint on him and put a special full body brace around him to stabilize him. They had some conversations about whether to call Life Flight who was already waiting on standby. They asked Chris and I if we wanted Life Flight as it would be a very long and painful hike back to the ambulance since they were not certified to give pain medications. Chris had already spent two hours with no pain medications and was in no place to bounce around back to the parking lot. He didn’t stop holding his pants leg that were cut but served as a sling for him. After confirming with us they officially dispatched Life Flight and gave them the coordinates of where we were at. The team then drew a large “X” in the sand to prep it for the helicopter landing site.
While we were waiting for Life Flight three Park Rangers showed up and helped Chris get prepped for the helicopter. Once the helicopter landed the flight medics quickly came and looked at Chris and got him on the cot and ready to head back to the helicopter. I was given permission to ride in the passenger seat next to the pilot on the helicopter. It was about a 30-to-45-minute helicopter flight to Tacoma General Hospital. As soon as they got Chris settled buckled in, they immediately gave him pain medications through his nose and then began to start an IV so they could administer more pain medications. The crew was excellent in skill and kind. Chris enjoyed talking “Flight” talk with them. When they knew he was a Flight Medic they had a “good ole boys” connection.
Once we arrived at the hospital the trauma team quickly took Chris to a room. The trauma doctor directed the staff to get Chris’s wet clothes off him and get him onto a hospital bed where they could take x-rays. They quickly assessed that he had broken his upper right femur. And dislocated it from his hip. They also put a “old school” (as Chris calls it) traction splint on him. It had a sandbag on one end and a boot on his ankle to pull the bones apart to prevent further damage from happening while they waited for surgery. They called the orthopedic surgeon, and he confirmed the surgery would be the next morning. Chris stayed in the hospital for the night as he waited to be taken back to surgery the next day.
They brought Chris back for surgery around 11:30 AM and brought him back out around 5:30 PM. They said it took twice as long as they had initially intended because he had shattered his femur in several different pieces. When you break a femur bone there is a lot of blood loss in general, but since the surgery was so long, he lost even more. They wanted to take their time to make sure it was put back together properly. The surgeon said, “They wanted him to be able to use his hip for the rest of his life”.
They pieced the shattered bones together with some wires, washers, screws, and a long titanium rod.
Since surgery, Chris has had to have two blood transfusions as his hemoglobin has been low.
This has been a miraculous journey and I thank God Serenity and Chris are alive. I thank God Serenity is doing so well. He saved her life. Greater love has no man than this, then he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) In this case Chris risked his life to save Serenity. She is doing very well but misses her daddy.
Chris is a true hero. He acted quickly and was very courageous! He fought to save Serenity cradling her as they tumbled down to the bottom. I have replayed this over and over in my mind. Life is so precious. We never want to take one another for granted. Love is the most powerful emotion and drive for life. Chris is fighting to simply stand up and take a few steps. His motivation is to see his kids. LOVE……
I can’t wait for the reunion. When Serenity sees her daddy for the first time after this accident…well words can’t describe that moment. UPDATE: We had a spontaneous short reunion yesterday. Most of us cried as we hugged. The older boys processing how they helped save their dad’s life. The younger ones replaying what they saw. It lasted about an hour long visit and then Chris needed to get back to his hospital bed. He was in pain and tired out. It made everyone’s day!
Please keep praying for us. We all are working through the traumatic event together. Gordon and Sarah have been like angels. They have been the ones helping the kids. Praying over them, studying God’s word with them, worshipping with them, and providing the care and necessities they have needed. I have been focused on being here at the hospital with Chris. It is hard to be separated. It is hard to not be there for my kids. I have peace, in knowing they are well taken care of.
Some ask me how I am doing. Mostly, I am tired. It has been an emotional roller coaster ride. Honestly, I am just so thankful they are alive. I try to remind myself to “keep my mind where my body is”. If I worry about tomorrow, I get overwhelmed. (Matthew 6:34) Since I am taking it day by day, I feel more strength. We have a lot of decisions coming up. I need wisdom. I do feel your prayers. We all do. Thank you for bearing this burden with us.
We found out today (a week after the accident) that Chris is being released from the hospital! What a miracle. We went form being very sick and needing a second blood transfusion to leaving to go home in a matter of three days! Truly miraculous!
Thank you to all the strangers who helped us. I may never see you to thank you in person, but we are so grateful you came to help. You helped save Chris’s life. Thank you to everyone who has been praying and believing with us for a miracle! God still answers prayers.
Psalm 27:13 & 14 I would have fainted/despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
No matter what HE is still GOOD!
P.S. We are planning to write this down in a story form sometime soon. Chris is a much better writer than I am. We will add his point of view and make it much better! It is a miraculous story that needs to be told!