When we had our accident traveling out west for Christmas in December of 2004, I vowed I would never again drive cross-country in the winter. However, like many times when we say we won't do it, we are made to eat our words. With Heber's wedding in Salt Lake City just before Christmas, and the Ray family reunion in Mesa just after Christmas, we found ourselves once again preparing for a winter trip. We have made this trip many, many times during the spring or summer; at least annually, but occasionaly semi-annually. So it's not the trip itself that worried me. It was the potential bad weather.
As we were driving on 191 from Rock Springs, WY to Vernal, UT and neared the very spot where it occured, we began to see snow covering the rode. Like a bad nightmare, flashbacks of the accident came flooding back and I had to pull-over to allow Anna Marie to drive the rest of the way. Bethany, who was an infant at the time and doesn't remember the experience, but contributed her thoughts as we discussed it. She said, "Dad, it doesn't matter if we are all killed. We'll just live again." What faith in the Savior, atonement and resurrection. I wish I were more like her.
Well, I dug out this email I remember sending to Andy Hobbs to let him know what had happened. It is dated December 23, 2004. Over the years I had forgotten several of the miracles that had occured and am grateful I have this written history recorded just after the event.
Here it is without editing:
At 1:30 AM Tuesday night, we were traveling across the mountains from Wyoming to Utah. As we came around a bend, we found a semi jack-knifed in the road. We were aimed for a head-on collision. In the snow storm, I had no control of the van, but managed to veer to the right far enough to only clip the front of the truck.
The impact was great enough to spin us around and off the side of the mountain. We traveled another 200' before coming to a stop, just shy of going thru a fence and falling into a ravine. Had we gone 5’ further, we would have dropped into the ravine.
We spent the night that way, on the side of the mountain. Thankfully the heater remained on, so we didn't freeze in the -10 Wyoming weather. Towards morning, I woke and realized we were still there, the semi had been towed off (they didn't know we fell down the mountain, he thought it was a hit and run) and we were alone on a road very infrequently traveled. The thought came to me, "you hold the Priesthood, use it!" So I spoke with Heavenly Father and called for assistance to arrive within 10 minutes. Only two minutes later, I saw lights coming down the mountain so I jumped out of the van and scrambled up the side of the mountain. I stopped the car whose lights I saw, which turned out to be a police man. He didn't know we were down there, and would not have seen us. From the tracks on the road in the snow, not a single person had passed all night. He had a large semi-tow truck drop a cable down the side, and wince the van back up the side. We finally left the van around 7 a.m. We had been there for 6 hours, and the gas gauge never changed. Had we run out of gas, we would have frozen. The temperature never raised above zero.
We are unable to drive it. There was a lot of damage. We are all safe, not even a scratch on anyone. How grateful I am that my family was protected and guarded.
After having been up most of the night, I slept from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m. this morning. I got up and attended the temple to perform initiatories and then an endowment session. I thanked Father in Heaven for keeping us safe. There could have easily been fatal results from an accident like this. We saw so many miracles occur during this experience. The Lord just kept blessing us. Tears of gratitude flowed freely while I was in the Celestial room this morning. The Lord is so merciful.
The insurance is looking into repairing the van. Not sure if it will be done before next Thursday when we planned on returning.