The rumors you may have heard are true: I was smashed in between two vehicles upon arrival at Snow Wolf Lodge for the Senior High Winter Retreat this weekend. It happened when we were unloading the vehicles, hours before any students arrived.
I wanted to share a few pics along with the story of the whole experience — one I will definitely remember for a very long time!
This first one is of my friend and Pine Valley NextGen volunteer, John Barker. I rode up with him to the retreat. He came up for the weekend to play drums with us and serve as an adult volunteer. We had to stop on the way up to the lodge and put on snow chains to make it up the steep incline. This pic was taken about 15 minutes before the incident…
By the time we got up to the lodge, Pastor Andy, The River Church youth pastor, and his team had already unloaded most of the U-haul trailer they had rented to haul up the equipment. John and I helped unload the last of the items and then started unloading the gear from his minivan — his drums and my keyboard/stand.
As you can see from the diagram below, the minivan was parked just down and to the left rear of Andy’s truck and the attached trailer. Andy asked John something to the affect of, “Hey, do you think it’d be okay if I back up the truck?” He was asking because where we were parked was icy and on a pretty good incline. He didn’t want to hit John’s truck. I said jokingly — from the side of John’s van (see diagram): “Don’t worry. I’ll be a buffer!” Then I turned to continue a conversation with Carrie, who was a little bit further down the hill. John was standing just to my left, attending to some of the gear in the open minivan door next to me.
Many of you know that I am still not hearing very well after a pretty serious ear infection that ruptured my right ear drum during the holidays. Especially, when things get loud, it’s hard to make out what people are saying. Well… things got loud all of a sudden! I heard shouting and saw Carrie’s eyes get big. She took a few steps back and pointed enthusiastically behind me. As I turned, I could see Andy’s truck and trailer sliding towards me — at that point, within a couple feet or so of impact.
What happened is this: when Andy stepped onto his truck to move it, the truck and trailer started sliding down the hill and to the left from his weight. Andy started yelling, which set off a chain reaction of yells all around me. It happened very fast. Andy was probably about 30 feet or so away from me before the truck started moving, but the momentum and weight of the truck and trailer made it all happen very quickly!
John was able to react fast and jumped directly inside his minivan where the sliding door was open. When I got turned around, I could see him jumping in my peripheral, and Andy sliding quickly towards me in the cab of his truck. Andy had tried to put the truck into gear and get some traction, but it just wasn’t catching.
Here’s a pic of the truck and trailer (a day after the accident)…
The truck impacted me by the driver’s side door and my chest ended up taking out Andy’s rear view mirror. Carrie said that I put my hands up in the air when it happened. You can see where my knees hit Andy’s door here…
Doesn’t look too bad right? And Andy was somehow able to jerry-rig his rear view mirror back into place, too (as shown in the picture).
The van door I was pushed into didn’t fair as well…
After impact, the truck/trailer and van bounced in opposite directions. The truck finally came to a stop when the trailer jack-knifed after sliding just a few more feet down the hill.
Thankfully, as scary as all of that sounds — and looks — I was not hurt! In fact, I walked away from the incident with hardly any detectable pain! Later that evening — and for the few days that have followed — I have started to feel some bruising where I am guessing the impact was made, but nothing visible. Not even one scratch or bruise! I took some ibuprofen at night and the next morning and have hardly felt anything!
The people that were there and had witnessed it thought I was a goner. Or, at the very least, had the very real potential to be seriously hurt. I thought the same thing! I could hardly believe it had happened when it was over. Afterwards, I couldn’t help but just stand there and start laughing.
Thank God for His protection! Thank you for praying for those of us at retreat! It would have been a very different start to the retreat had I not “made it”!
“Hey everyone, welcome to retreat. We’ve got some bad news about Pastor Shawn…”
But not only did I “make it”, I didn’t even have a scratch! #AngelsGoBeforeMe
The whole experience totally reminded me of another time I was unexplainably “okay” after driving right through the wreckage of a fatal car accident that happened right in front of me. You can read about that here.
Anyhow, we all know that the enemy tries to “kill, steal and destroy” (John 10:10). Well, I guess I want to say to that today: “Satan, you can’t stop me!” He tried to distract in other ways this weekend as well: sick students and leaders, along with some other sticky situations, but he wasn’t successful. Man, it was an amazing weekend for all of us! God moved deeply in students’ and leaders’ lives alike. I’m so thankful for the journey.
I’m still having a hard time believing what happened. And Carrie jokingly says that we should put the two vehicles together at the point of impact and make a “Shawn statue” for the youth room — LOL! #AlwaysRemember
I’d encourage you to set aside some time and watch our highlights video from the retreat. I posted it over at PineValleyNextGen.com here. You’ll see joy, freedom, ministry and lives being changed by the power and presence of God. Can’t wait to do it all again next year!