It’s a long drive from Magrath, Alberta, Canada, to Calgary, and the torrents of rain pelting the highway didn’t make the trip seem any shorter. Most of us were tired, so we stretched out on the seats and mattress in the back of the family van while mom and Grandma Briggs sat up front and talked. I remember thinking we were in the middle of a real cloudburst and then drifting off to sleep.
When I regained consciousness, I ached all over. No wonder. The impact of a violent crash had stuffed me into a small space near the side door. My legs were scraped and bleeding; my breath came convulsively. I seemed to be alone except I could see grandma lying in the wreckage, and I heard moans. Soon strangers pulled me from my painful trap, and I approached grandma, who whispered, “Everything is going to be all right.”
Briggs, my 13-year-old brother, had been thrown out the rear door of the van. He said that when he found me I was hysterical. He shook me by the arm to help me get control of myself and told me to quit screaming and pray. I calmed down. And I did pray. He stumbled back to the highway and flagged down a car, even though his arm and collar bone were broken and his head was cut.
Evidently my mother had lost control of the van when it hydroplaned through a large puddle. We had crossed the road, skidded down an embankment, and then continued forward until the wheels hit a culvert and we became airborne. We crashed into the dirt and rolled several times, then came to rest upright near a dirt road that led to a farmhouse. Mother was seriously injured, with a crushed chest and a lacerated forehead; she was trapped in the wreckage and couldn’t be moved without help.
It was hard not to panic. We were far from home on vacation, and though we had been on our our aunt’s new home, we didn’t know anyone in the immediate area. (We were later to find out that we were close to Vulcan, a small town about 35 miles from Calgary.) And we weren’t where we could be easily seen from the road. But my brother’s words stuck in my mind, that I should be quiet and pray. Whenever I did start to get upset and worried, I prayed and felt calm again.
There were two girls in the car Briggs flagged down. They in turn stopped a car with a CB radio, an ambulance was at the scene in two and a half minutes. We were lucky. There was a small emergency hospital in Vulcan, and we received care quickly.
There was only one phone for patients to use. My mother asked to be wheeled to it. She called my father back in Salt Lake City; then she called my uncle in Calgary, and he came immediately. When he arrived, the first thing room asked him was if he could find the elders. Approaching the hospital desk to inquire, he was met by two men in their 50s or 60s.
“Has anyone here been asking for elders from the Mormon church?” they asked. “Yes!” he said, and led them to our rooms. They said they had been driving down the road, had seen the Utah license plates on the smashed van, and felt inspired to check at the hospital. They said they were both high priests. Before leaving, they gave a blessing to my brother, my cousin, my mother, and me. We never did find out their names or where they were from, but later we sent a letter to the editor of the local paper in an effort to thank them.
It was in the hospital that we also learned that Grandma Briggs had died at the scene of the accident. But her words of assurance had helped me to understand that she was ready to rejoin grandpa in the spirit world and that she had felt peace in her heart as she passed to the other side.
I learned another important lesson, too. And that is that the Lord does hear and answer prayers, and that he can direct worthy priesthood holders to be in places where they can help others. Though we all suffered serious injuries, we recovered. And the priesthood blessings at a time of need were a great comfort to us. I will always be grateful to those two men who took time to obey a prompting of the Spirit that led them to the hospital, and thankful for the peace that came to my heart when I prayed, telling me everything would be all right.