RESCUEDby Susie Whitten
The old truck was struggling up the dirt road that wound up the hill, but it was a beautiful summer day to be out with the family. It was 1976, and my husband, Steve, was driving the liquid feed truck for my dad, delivering feed to dairy farms for their cattle. With our two-year-old daughter, Robyn, standing between us in the cab and the tank full of liquid, we were slowly making the delivery to a ranch high in the Chino Hills of Southern California. It was so warm that day, and the higher we climbed in the old international truck, the hotter it seemed to get.
Near the top of the hill, just as the pull of the tank was at its peak, we heard a “pop” from beneath the truck. Instantly, Steve stepped on the brakes. Nothing happened. The truck slowed under the weight of the load and Steve threw me an anxious glance. “Jump out,” he said, “and get some rocks for behind the tires.”
As soon as I opened the door and started to get out, the truck began rolling backward. Steve was standing on the brakes with all his might, and with the open door pushing at my back, forcing me along with it, I knew I had to reach in and grab Robyn. Everything was happening so fast, and our little girl panicked and grabbed hold of Steve. “Go to Mommy,” he called, pushing her back toward me.
By now the truck was moving so fast that I had to run to keep up, my feet slipping on the dirt track. Screaming at Steve to get out, I pulled Robyn by the legs as hard as I could. As soon as she was free, the truck seemed to surge back with even greater power. The open door knocked Robyn and me to the ground. I looked up and watched as Steve, still standing on the brakes, his face straining with all he had, continued backward. As the road twisted off to the side, the truck carried on, disappearing from view.
I screamed as I ran to the edge. I looked down and watched as the truck rolled over and over, tearing up the shrubbery, flipping from end to end with great clouds of dust swirling up into the air before settling four hundred feet below. I stood there with Robyn, holding her close. We were in shock, covered in blood, dirt, and dust from our fall. It was all too much take in.
Suddenly, Steve was next to us. There was not a speck of dust on his white T-shirt and white cord jeans. “How did you get here?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said, looking even more shocked than I felt. “I think God took me out of the truck.” We looked down to see our house and car keys on the ground by our feet. We hugged and wept for a while and then started our long walk back down the dirt road to try and find help.
A man working in a nearby barn took us to my sister’s house, from where we went to the doctor to get my and Robyn’s wounds cleaned up. We told him our story, and as he looked at Steve he warned him that tomorrow he’d feel pretty sore. We could tell he wasn’t quite sure what to make of our story, and he told Steve that it would have been the adrenaline rush that got him out of the truck so quickly. Once it wore off, he could expect to feel sore.
We knew better. I had seen Steve in the truck as it went backward over the edge. I knew that the windows were up and that by that time, if he had managed to open a door, it would have knocked him down to the ground in an instant. There was just no way he could have made his own escape from the truck without so much as a speck of dirt on his clothes.
The next day, Steve didn’t have a sore muscle in his body. As he and his dad hiked down to the truck to make plans to get it out, they saw the broken driveshaft and mangled brake clamp. And they saw that even though his window was broken out, it was still in a rolled-up position with the door shut.
We knew right then, as we still know today, that God took
him out of that truck. God chose to spare Steve’s life because He
wasn’t done with my husband here on earth yet. How He did it,
we don’t know. But we do know that it was God and God alone.