Never, ever drive off or ride in a vehicle without first fastening your seat belt.
I discovered first-hand the lifesaving importance of "Buckling-Up!"
On May 6, I was returning home to Iron Mountain from Marquette with the first shipment of my new book, "Where the Wind Blows" - an exciting time for me. It was a beautiful day; the trees were leafing out in different shades of green and the day was clothed with warm sunshine. The drive was beautiful and I was in no hurry. I was following a slow-moving small pickup pulling a trailer with what appeared to be a few cedar posts.
Rather than pass the swaying trailer, I waited for a long straight stretch about a mile south of Channing on M-95. I signaled that I was pulling out to pass, when I observed a black truck attempting to overtake my vehicle at the same time. In order to avoid a collision with it, I had to get back into the right lane behind the trailer. My trusty little Sport Trac went crazy, and would not respond to my steering, crossed the highway, rolled a couple of times and landed in a water-filled ditch.
The next thing I knew my truck landed on the passenger side and I was trapped inside. My attempt to release the seat belt, locate my cell phone or turn off the ignition failed. I was held fast by my seat belt.
Strangely enough, I felt no fear, no pain - except from the tight seat belt. The windows were blown out, and I found myself spitting out, and covered with, shards of glass. I expected the drivers of the two trucks ahead of me to come to my assistance. When that didn't happen, I wondered how far into the woods I was. I couldn't see out because my head was down, however, I reached and managed to sound the horn.
The next thing I knew I heard a man's voice calling 911 and another crawled in the passenger-side window behind me. I heard him say, "I'm going to hold her head up" - which he did, until help arrived, despite the fact that his arms had to be tired. I wish I knew the names of those two men (a Mike?) and would certainly appreciate a call from someone who does know. They were truly my "earthly angels."
The next thing I knew, the face of a handsome, young police officer (Sheriff's Dept.?) appeared outside the missing windshield and identified himself as "a police officer." When I said, "I can tell," he laughed and asked "How?" How could I say that "I didn't think God's angels wore police uniforms and a badge?"
Next, the state troopers were beside him. Everything went pretty fast and efficiently. Ambulances were in place; the top of my vehicle was cut off and I was extracted - feeling bad that my rescuers had to wade through mud and water to help me.
The care in the ambulance was exemplary; the EMTs professional yet caring. I am sure the ER deals with daily crisis, yet on May 6, I felt like I was the only patient they had to treat. There was an outstanding male nurse on duty who took the time to explain everything that was happening as it unfolded. Again, I'm sorry I've forgotten his name.
I don't know how, or why, my life was spared that afternoon. I do know it is only by the grace of God that I am alive. I have no doubt I was surrounded by guardian angels as well as the "earthly angels" who wound up soaked and muddied with swamp water to help a stranger.
The reality of that experience came with crashing clarity. It put things in proper perspective for me ... about living and dying, about other people, and about myself. It's a classroom that never closes. It's great to be alive ... and please always buckle-up.
Ida M. Nord