By Wayne Ezzell
July 11, 2018
Most of you know about our car accident Sunday July 8, 2018 on I-26 in Asheville. Reflecting on it, I realize how fortunate we were. Interesting that things could have taken a turn for the worse.
Some call it luck or fate. Some call it God’s hand or angels watching over us. We prefer to credit the latter. You don’t get much warning when you see a vehicle approaching at a high rate of speed in your rearview mirror. Not much you can do but brace. I think I shouted to Donna “he’s not going to stop” and bam! Amazingly, the impact was not as bad as imagined but still quite a jolt. I was surprised we were conscious and able to move without pain. The vehicle that hit us careened on past and into the other lane and ended up next to the guardrail in the center median. He had not hit anyone else and neither did the vehicles behind us or in front of us get involved. His airbag deployed but the elderly gentleman appeared unhurt but still shook up and very regretful. He is 76 years old and had never had an accident. I comforted him and told him all was going to be okay. It was about 3:30 pm.
We go very few places where a dog is not involved, and this trip was no exception. We had picked up a doodle in Knoxville, TN headed for the farm and a new life. Unfortunately, she bolted out of our car during the chaos. She was frightened and would not respond to us. After dodging just inches from Donna’s outstretched hands several times, we then began a four hour journey to get Scout back safely in our arms.
Keep in mind that the patrolman and wrecker told us this was one of the most dangerous and accident-prone areas of the interstate. I-40 and I-26 traffic converge in this area and while the accident scene was being cleaned up, police reports completed and both vehicles, totaled, were towed away, Donna headed down the median and sometimes right in the middle of I-26 East to rescue Scout. Scout was in and out of traffic and good Samaritans were trying to assist. I don’t know how Donna or Scout made it out unhurt. The weather was hot and clear. An hour into the chase, I was still waiting for the wrecker and I saw Donna sink down to her knees in the middle of the highway. She said later she was dizzy and light headed but stopping long enough to catch her breath helped – I think she was close to heat stroke. Those of you who know Donna know if she had to crawl she would continue.
In the interim, the call was put out for volunteers and we were fortunate to have Jessie Morgan, Meredith Baker, Anthony Pascoe, Susan Schwarz and Merrie Likes show up to assist in the search. Jen Reel in Raleigh was on the phones alerting animal services, vet offices and our rescue partners in the area as well as broadcasting the call for help to our Family and Friends group. It takes a village.
Scout spent two solid hours running and dodging traffic, Donna and several volunteers right behind her. Then the news we did not want to hear – Scout had been hit by a vehicle and had gone down an embankment bordering the Broad River. As volunteers continued to arrive, we began searching along that area.
No one was physically equipped to search this particular area. The embankment on the other side of the highway dropped at a severe angle and the area was heavily wooded with briars and wild blackberry bushes, sometimes overhead high. It was a tangle of thorns and heavily overgrown brush and trees. Most everyone had on shorts and most everyone came out with scratches and some with bloody arms and legs, sweating and exhausted. However, no one was quitting. Not until afterwards did we even give a thought to snakes, spiders, ticks and other unseen hazards in these thickets. Angels were everywhere – some wearing the human form called volunteers and some with wings, unseen by human eyes but we could feel them there. I have no doubt they protected us from every possible danger.
But still no sign of Scout.
We called Susan, the groomer who had fostered Scout for several week and who had turned Scout over to us. We felt this might be our only chance since Scout might respond to her. She did not hesitate and broke all records making the 2 hour trip from Knoxville. I took her back to the search area. By this time it was around 7:30 pm. The shadows in these woods were getting long and we knew it was getting urgent. We headed back west in an area we had searched before and went back down the embankment and began calling. Suddenly Scout, hearing Susan’s voice, appeared out of nowhere, bouncing around like nothing ever happened, apparently unscathed. We thought we were seeing things and shed a few tears when we realized the girl had returned to us. We offered Susan the opportunity to take her back to Knoxville but she did not hesitate to turn her over to CPR once again. She said she trusted us and believed in what we do.
Scout is now safely home with us and getting more comfortable every day.
I believe we received more than one miracle that day. We were unhurt, surviving an accident that rendered two cars undrivable and ultimately totaled. The searchers were unharmed with the exception of a few scratches. Cars can be replaced but our animals and our supporters who came to Scout’s rescue were safe. And one dog named Scout did get to start a new life instead of having her life end under the screeching wheels of a car.
I wanted to personally recognize those that dropped everything and came to help. There were the 3 strangers, Good Samaritans, angels without wings who stayed with Donna in the first part of the search. These three men pulled off the freeway and gave several hours of their day to a dog they had never met. We don’t even know their names, but Donna said they saved Scout’s life several times over by keeping her out of traffic. There were several kind people who waived Donna over and handed her dog treats and dog toys. The green squeaky frog a driver pushed into Donna’s hands caught Scout’s attention several times, enough to distract her to keep her out of trouble.
Jessie Morgan made it up that mountain in just at an hour and it’s a lot farther drive than that. She also showed up with much needed Gatorade and water for at that point dehydration was a real threat. The rest were not far behind her – thank you again Anthony Pascoe and Susan Schwarz, Meredith Baker and Merrie Likes. During these times, knowing someone has your back makes all the difference.
I also know that there were many more that could not be there that put us in their prayers and thoughts that saw us through. We are grateful for each of you that continue to support our mission, particularly during times of crisis.