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February 21, 2012

A Sunday Crash in the Mountains and A Lot of Coincidences!

by Greg Edmonds

I concluded Missionary Church yesterday (Sunday, Feb. 19th) with these words to the visiting team and the other missionaries, “We will leave to go snorkeling at 2-o-clock.”  Little did I know that 10 minutes later I would receive a call from Pastor Andy Troyer that would send the Wesleyan Hospital, the Wesleyan Mission Compound, and the WISH Compound into emergency mode.  But God knew, and He was already working out the details before we even knew there was a problem.

The call came about noon from a missionary family in the mountains that a visiting mission team was involved in an accident in the mountains.  The initial word was that 6 or 7 of the crash victims were pretty banged up and had a lot of cuts, scrapes, and bruise, and that 3 or 4 were seriously injured.  We immediately notified the Wesleyan Hospital and began preparing for the arrival of the team.  Within 20 minutes we had two American nurses, one nurse from England, three of our Haitian doctors, several Haitian nurses, and almost all of us missionaries standing by.

The Accident
One of the translators for the team was an American girl who was able to fill us in on the accident.  She said there were 11 people piled into an old pick-up truck.  The team was taking their Sunday to go to the beach and they were headed down the mountain.  She noticed that the driver was going pretty fast over the rough road and soon realized that he was picking up speed because he had no brakes.  On one side of the road was a ravine and on the other side was an embankment.  The driver turned to go up the embankment and did somewhat of a u-turn.  As the truck went up the embankment it rolled over back down toward the road and came to rest on its’ side.  Many of the people were thrown from the truck and two ladies were pinned under it for about 10 minutes.

Pastor Andy Troyer and his family are missionaries with the Allegheny Wesleyans and live in the mountains of La Gonave.  His 19-year-old son, Nathan, was going to visit one of their churches in another mountain village.  He would usually take the four-wheeler, but yesterday morning his mom suggested he take their full-size pick-up truck that has an extended cab and an extended bed.  He took the truck to the other village and was helping with Children’s church when he got a call telling about the accident.  The accident was 5 minutes from the church he was visiting!  He left the service and was quickly at the accident scene ready to transport all 11 victims to the Wesleyan Hospital…the only hospital on the island of La Gonave.

Back at the hospital the medical staff and missionaries were preparing bandages, stitching, IV bags, splints, etc. to triage the victims as soon as they arrived.  I was on the phone with Pastor Andy, the US Embassy, MAF, and several others working on logistics.  The crash happened up in the mountains so the trip down to the hospital took well over an hour.  In that time the logistics for getting the team transferred to Port-au-Prince was taking place.  Leading that was a Haitian man who was at his weekend home on the mainland when he was contacted by the father of one of the translators with the team.  The man, Phillipe, is the owner of Hertz Rent-a-Car in Port, and he took his speedboat to the island to check on the daughter of his friend.  He also is friends with the team leader, Kris.  He had connections to get a UN helicopter to the island to airlift the most critical patients.

After almost an hour the truck pulled into the gate at the Wesleyan Hospital and the assembled team of medical personnel and missionaries went into action.  Only one of the crash victims was uninjured enough to stay behind on the island with us to wait for the rest of the team to come down the mountain.  This part of their team had not made the trip that day.  The rest of the people were triaged at the hospital.  Many wounds were cleaned, quite a few of the patients needed stitches, and the three or four most serious injuries were worked with to stabilize their condition.

The injured team had not been at the hospital very long when another team visiting from Michigan came walking onto the WISH compound.  It “just happened” to be Dr. Steve Edmondson (Starfysh) and two other American doctors visiting with him.  They immediately jumped in and began helping treat the injuries.  They were coming down to take a walking tour of WISH, the Wesleyan grounds, and the Wesleyan Hospital even as the victims were arriving.  Dr. Steve commented on Facebook, “Everyone was pretty roughed up and pretty traumatized emotionally too. 7 evacuated by small plane, 4 by large UN medical helicopter. Lots of fractures, head wounds, internal injuries.”

The team was at our Wesleyan Hospital for about two hours being treated and stabilized.  Eight members of the team were then flown to Port-au-Prince on a Missionary Aviation Fellowship plane, and the four most serious injuries were airlifted on a large United Nations helicopter.  The remaining members of the team who were not in the accident made it down to our Wesleyan Compound last night about 6pm.  They ate with us and then spent the night in our guesthouse.   They left to join the rest of their team in Port this morning at 6am.

My comment on Rod Geiszler’s post from Facebook last night (Sunday):
“I just received word that the 2 or 3 most serious injuries will be airlifted to the US tomorrow. It was a great team effort (Wesleyan Hospital, Wesleyan mission, WISH, visiting teams (WISH, Wesleyan, & Starfysh), Troyer family, United Nations helicopter, MAF flight, and the list could go on) getting these people treated and transferred. This was a team that seemed to have NO religious or Christian affiliation, but they saw God’s people at their finest today!!! Thank you all for your prayers!”

When I called Pastor Andy last night to give him a final update on how the medical evacuation went he told me one more thing about the entire day.  He told me that Digicel and Natcom had only recently built cell towers in these areas of the mountains.  He said that just a short time ago none of the logistics that had taken place that afternoon would have been possible.

A bunch of coincidences?  I think not!!!  Thank you all for your prayers for us missionaries on the field.  You may not have a clue what we need when you feel led to pray for us…BUT GOD DOES!  Please continue to pray for this team from Boston.  Their physical wounds will heal, but they need to know the Great Physician who loves them and wants to heal their hearts!

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3 comments already

  1. Jason on 02.24.2012 at 9:57 am | permalink
  2. This is a crazy post Greg. Being there in Nov 2011 with the Halifax team I can’t even imagine. Coming down the mountain in a good truck is challenging, even scarier with a bad truck…but with a brake failure…. I look back at how many times we all climbed into the trucks. God was there for sure to make the best of a bad situation. Keep safe!

  3. Jason on 02.24.2012 at 9:59 am | permalink
  4. FYI, I passed this along to the others that were on our team for prayers.

  5. LJC on 02.28.2012 at 5:50 am | permalink
  6. My sister was one of the ladies pinned under that truck. Please extend our gratitude to your people for helping her and the others that day. The coinincidences that you speak of are only a few of the many that helped my sister survive this accident. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being there that day and for caring enough to help out.

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