The children were safely buckled into the five point shoulder harness seat belts and they were off. At dusk they headed out for the last ride of the day. My son in law was driving and five children were on board. Two of my grandchildren, a grand nephew, and two family friends.
We began to worry when they were gone longer that we thought they should be. As the time ticked away I know many silent prayers were offered for their safe return. Many of us stood at the deck at the top of the hill and listened and watched for the Rangers safe return on the road below.
Instead, an emergency vehicle arrived with my son-in-law and my two grandchildren at the bottom of the hill. The children ran up the hill to the cabin with the message to send down the parents of the other children on board. We received our first information from a eight and ten year old who were doing their best to answer all of our questions. There had been a fire. The adults were asking "Is everyone okay?" We got word that one of the family friends had been slightly injured.
The men in our family rallied to do what they could to help. They loaded up and headed to the scene. It wasn't long before those of us at the cabin were receiving emailed photos of the results of what had happened.
Gratitude filled our hearts to know that there were no serious injuries after seeing the destruction. A fire had started directly behind the center back seat. The boy in the center felt the heat below him and leaned forward, the boys in the back saw flames and yelled fire! My son-in-law stopped quickly and four of the children were able to unbuckle and get to safety. The little boy in the center had to lean away from the flames to keep from getting burned. This made it impossible for him to unbuckle himself. My son-in-law reached through the flames to release his harness.
It was reported that the flames were 50 feet into the air. Within minutes nothing but the steel frame was left and parts of the Ranger had melted into the blacktop below. The brush and the tall trees at the roads edge were badly singed but thankfully no forest fire was ignited.
Before long all of the children had been released by the emergency workers to their parents. The one little boy who was sitting in the middle had badly singed hair on the back of his head and the back of his shorts were melted. His only injury was a very slight burn on one of his arms.
Every parent and grandparent there couldn't help but think of how differently this could have ended. Many of the children had sat in the exact seat just hours before. Our silent prayers turned to prayers of gratitude for the quick actions of my son-in-law and for the Heavenly protection that they had all been blessed with.
The children who witnessed this horrific accident considered my son-in-law a real life hero for saving their little friend. We were reminded as a family just how quickly bad things can happen.
I am so very, very thankful that things turned out as they did. We were truly blessed.
Hug those you love a little tighter today!