High overhead a flock of ducks locked their wings and dropped down toward the reservoir. It was early morning, and it was duck hunting season. I was in the bulrushes on one side of the reservoir, and two of my friends, Rick and Kinnley, were on the opposite side. The ducks circled the pond several times and then whistled down directly in front of the place Rick and Kinnley were hiding.
I heard three shots. The ducks came up fast. I heard a fourth shot. I remember wondering about it because the ducks were out of range when I heard it. The ducks flew out across the valley and began circling over some small ponds.
Kinnley ran out of the place they’d been hiding and yelled, “Skip, come here.” I knew there would be more ducks coming, and I didn’t want to move. Before I could answer, Kinnley ran back into the bulrushes. He came out again in just a few seconds.
“Skip, hurry!” he yelled.
I ran over as fast as I could so that I would be in position if more ducks flew over. When I reached Kinnley I knew something was wrong. His face was white.
“My gun jammed,” he stammered. “Rick’s been hurt.”
We ran into the bulrushes, and there I saw one of the most gruesome sights in my life. Here was one of my best friends writhing in pain from a shotgun blast in the side. Rick Was moaning. “Help me, you guys, you’ve got to help me.”
I knew we had to stop the bleeding immediately and that then we’d have to get help. The nearest town was several miles away. We bound the wound up with Kinnley’s shirt. It didn’t help much. Rick was dying. Kinnley and I both knew there wasn’t much time left. Our truck was on a road about two miles away. We knew we couldn’t carry Rick to it, and getting help would take time, maybe too much time. While we were trying to decide what to do, Kinnley said, “Skip, let’s give him a blessing.”
We knelt by his side and placed our hands on his head.
“You go first,” Kinnley said.
With the power of the Aaronic Priesthood I blessed Rick. I asked that the bleeding would stop, that Rick would be relieved of pain, and that he would survive the accident. I also prayed that Kinnley and I would be able to think clearly in getting Rick to a hospital.
When we finished our prayers and took our hands off his head, a feeling of peace replaced the panic we’d felt before. I told Kinnley to run and get the truck. I took off my coat and overalls to keep Rick warm. I put a coat under his head and carefully laid him on the side opposite the wound. He was getting weaker. I tried to assure him that it wasn’t all that bad and that he was going to be all right.
Never in all of my life had I felt so totally helpless, my friend in so much pain, dying, pleading for me not to let him die, blood soaking through the shirt we’d bound the wound in. I pleaded with the Lord to please, please let him live.
Kinnley came back with the truck. His face was even whiter than it had been before. We decided we couldn’t risk moving Rick. I left in the truck to call an ambulance. The road was rough, and it seemed like it took me hours to reach the town. I knew that every second counted.
I went into a cafe and said there’d been an accident. I went to a pay phone, the closest telephone, and called the hospital. I told them to send the ambulance to the junction in the road that turned off the main highway to the reservoir.
Several men in the cafe offered to help. We drove to the junction and waited. I can’t remember waiting for anything in my life as long as I waited for that ambulance. It actually took only three minutes from the time I called until the ambulance reached the junction.
The ambulance started following me to the reservoir, but the road was too rough. The ambulance crew loaded equipment into the back of my truck and we started again. It seemed like hours since I’d left Rick and Kinnley, and I didn’t know what I would find.
When we reached them, Kinnley stood up.
“Skip, look at Rick.”
Rick was breathing easier, and it appeared that the pain had subsided. The ambulance crew went to work. They put a pair of pressurized pants on Rick and pumped them up. In just minutes his blood pressure was close to normal, and in about a half hour he had stabilized enough to be moved. The ambulance crew and several of the men from the cafe lifted Rick onto the back of the truck and started for the ambulance.
I stayed behind to get our coats and guns. I sat there by myself for a while and said a prayer thanking my Father in Heaven. A week later Kinnley and I visited Rick in the hospital. He was sitting up in bed playing an electric basketball game, smiling. The experience strengthened my testimony of the priesthood. I knew the blessing we gave to Rick had helped save his life and had helped Kinnley and me make the right decisions.