Z and I had a terrifying experience recently driving home from an afternoon with friends in Dayton.
It flurried a bit as we drove to Dayton that morning, but I didn’t think much of it. We had a great day; it was clear and cold when we headed home a little after 5 pm.
The temperature dropped as the sun went down, however, and it was about 28 degrees when Waze suddenly warned of a big slowdown ahead on I-70.
Not wanting to get stuck in stopped traffic, I accepted the re-route Waze served up and took the Plain City exit.
In hindsight, I am too trusting when it comes to Waze. I should have thought this through more critically: why might there a slowdown ahead on a Sunday evening at this time? Could it be connected to the frigid, icy temps outside?
We exited the highway and found ourselves heading northeast on very dark country roads. I am already a little bit nervous driving at night, so on unlit back roads, I tend to slow way down. My car began to warn of icy surfaces, so I slowed down even further.
Driving slowly may have saved us that night – and it certainly saved my car.
On a long, straight, dark stretch of road with nothing but farmland on both sides, I suddenly saw flashing lights up ahead in the distance. I’m bad at judging distances, but it was about a sports field’s distance away. I instinctively touched my brakes to slow down even more… and that’s when we started to slide.
Z was asleep in the back seat; her seatbelt was on, but her body was leaned over to one side and she had her headphones on. When the car started sliding, my immediate thought was her and how terrified she would be if we ended up in a ditch at the side of the road.
Our speed was slow enough that I was fairly certain we wouldn’t die, but I thought for sure we were going to slide off the road. I controlled the sliding as much as I could, turning the wheel into the skids and gently correcting. I continued to gently brake and let off, brake and let off, barely touching it but trying to coax the car to stop. The more I braked, the more we slid and started to spin.
When I say the road was a literal sheet of ice… it was terrifying. My tires had zero grip. There was no stopping us. We slid ever closer to the flashing lights – I could now see two distinct emergency vehicles. Almost in slow motion, we continued our long, slow slide along that sheet of ice.
I continued to lightly brake, steer and correct as best I could, doing everything to keep the car on the road. I had very little control of where the car slid but I did have some. Soon we came upon the first emergency vehicle. I saw that there were several multi-car pileups just beyond it.
My car was going so slowly now that it was barely moving, but I still could not get us to stop completely. I was so afraid we were going to hit that first emergency vehicle, but we slide right past it – no more than six feet away from it – and then FINALLY glided to a stop about a car’s length past it.
I’ve never been so happy to feel a car stop moving! I let out a huge sigh, put the car in park and put my hazard lights on. My heart was pounding and racing. I took some deep, shaky, relieved breaths.
At this point, Z sat up and took her headphones off and said “Mama, what’s happening?! I felt the car moving weird!” She sounded so confused and afraid.
I said, “Honey, I don’t want you to be scared, but we just slid around on this icy road and almost had an accident. But we didn’t! We’re safe. I was going really slow and that’s what saved us. We’re okay.”
She burst into terrified tears – I felt so bad that I couldn’t go back and comfort her. But we were still sitting in the middle of an ice-covered road and I knew we had to get out of there before the next car came along.
An emergency worker walked from the nearest crash site over to us and asked if we were okay. I said yes, just shaken up from sliding and almost crashing. He said we were the lucky ones tonight. He told me to turn the car around, very carefully, and go back the way we came. He said the road is pure ice so go extremely slow – and I said oh trust me, I know!
Z and I were both shaken up but fine. I slowly, gingerly turned the car around and breathed a prayer of thanks. Because here’s the thing – when the car was sliding, I wasn’t in control but SOMEONE or something was.
I felt a definite and distinct divine presence guiding our car, keeping us on the road and guiding us away from the other vehicle so that we didn’t crash. I don’t know if it was God or angels or what, but there was definitely a positive force navigating and protecting our vehicle on that icy road. I haven’t felt a divine presence so clearly and definitively since I was 17 years old. I am so very grateful!
I know that it’s problematic to say something like “God protected us.” Why would God or angels or a divine presence protect Z and I that night when all those other people got into accidents? I don’t know the answer to that – I only know what I experienced.
When I explained it to Z, I told her that I felt a divine presence guiding the car and I ALSO had been going slow enough that we were able to slide to a stop in time. It was a combination of both.
Z kept saying, “No Mommy, it was you, you saved us!” but I definitely felt that it was not me alone. I had very control over the car as we were sliding from side to side down the road. My braking and steering were helping a little, but not much – our car was GUIDED by something outside of us. My low speed at the outset of the sliding helped for sure – but so did an unseen force.
I’m happy to report that the rest of our drive home was slow and uneventful. Before we got back on the highway, we stopped at a gas station in Plain City to get some snacks and use the restroom. We sat for a while in the car, called E to tell him about our experience and then headed slowly home.
Once back on the highway, we encountered no more ice – thank heaven for the salt treating they do on most busy roads. Those untreated back country roads were no joke!
I hope to never experience another close call while driving. I know that I’ll never forget our icy drive home that night and the unbelievably powerful presence and guidance I felt keeping us safe. I am forever grateful.
Have you ever had an experience like this while driving, and did you feel guardian angels too? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below or over on Facebook.