Letters to the Editor: Oct. 16, 2013

Grateful parents thank a region for their daughter

Our daughter Ashley was heading out for fall break on Friday from Rhodes College in Memphis when she dozed behind the wheel on U.S. 78 near Fulton. She jolted awake as she drifted into the median, overcorrected, and her Honda CRV started to flip. A witness in an approaching car said it went airborne and rolled 15 times. He alertly pulled up beside her in the median just as her vehicle came to rest. His quick action likely saved her life because she was hanging against her shoulder harness, and her injuries are consistent with it strangling her. He and three or four others who stopped pulled her free and righted the small SUV. Other folks gathered her belongings that where scattered down the highway. That first person who stopped for her, Airman Jonathan Evans, USAF, controlled the situation and provided first aid. After calling 911, he used my daughter’s cellphone to call us. We jumped in our car and drove the eight hours from Gainesville, Fla., to Tupelo in a panic.

Ashley already is out of the hospital and will make a full recovery, probably resuming classes next week. Every person who touched our lives over the past four days has been an angel. So many strangers stopped to help, as well. We don’t know their names, but they all were godsends. The nurses and doctors at North Mississippi Medical Center were skilled, kind and attentive.

My wife and I grew up in Tennessee and lived for a dozen years in Alabama before moving to Florida last year. We know the South, but the degree of hospitality that surrounded us in Tupelo during a very scary time for our family was more than we expected. We are witnesses to the power of prayer from strangers, family and friends. And we can testify to the life-saving engineering of today’s vehicles, including the seatbelt that no doubt averted a tragedy by holding her in place. Thank y’all. Thanks be to God.

Doug and Julie Ray

Gainesville, Fla.