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A miracle on Howard Road

By any stretch, the young man should have died that October evening in 1985. The laws of physics should have left him flattened and lifeless under the wheels of an automobile on Howard Road.

Instead, he was rescued by some invisible force that many would call an angel, and it was done in the presence of a person who was not the most likely candidate to believe in miracles.

The witness of this miracle was a professor who had been trained to avoid flights of fantasy. He was, by nature, given only to what his five senses could tell him. He was an academic, whose search for truth was confined to the empirically verifiable; in terms of logic, he certainly leaned toward inductive rather than deductive epistemology; that’s why he was so stunned by his experience on Howard Road on that October evening of 1985.

The professor held a Ph.D. in History from USC and was highly esteemed for his investigative sleuthing and synthesizing skills. He was in Madera to facilitate a meeting between renowned author Irving Stone and a class of Howard School sixth graders who had gained some national notoriety with a history project of their own.

On the eve of Stone’s visit, the professor was riding with this writer on Howard Road. They were going to the Madera Unified School District to pick up some books for the signing that would take place the next morning.

Traffic was brisk that evening as the pair traveled past where Hal’s Market used to stand. There were cars in both lanes ahead of them when suddenly a man darted into the street right in front of an oncoming car. This writer froze at the wheel; the professor gasped, and they both prepared for the massacre that was about to take place. Then something out of this world took place.

Instead of flying up into the air or being plowed under the wheels of the car, the man appeared unscathed on the sidewalk. A millisecond before he had been looking squarely into the headlights of a car that was right on top of him. Then in the next instant he was on the sidewalk perfectly safe. Somehow, time had stood still and something had transported him to safety.

Traffic went on, unimpeded, and the professor and I pulled into the parking lot of MUSD. We were shaken and incredulous. We related to each other what we had just seen, thinking perhaps it had been a figment of our imaginations. This was not the case. We both had seen the same phenomenon. There was only one explanation — some divine force had rescued the man from being splattered over Howard Road. It wasn’t just a close call. It wasn’t just a narrow escape. It wasn’t a mirage. It had been a miracle performed before two independent witnesses whose accounts did not differ one iota.

This morning before writing this article, I sent the professor the following message: “Tom, do you remember the miracle we witnessed that night in Madera in 1985? We were driving at night to pick up some books at the school district office for the Irving Stone signing the next day.

Traffic was kind of heavy, and someone ran across the street in front of us. One instant he was right in front of a moving car ahead of us, and in the very next instant he was on the sidewalk. It was like he had been instantly transported somehow. I have been thinking about that phenomenon.”

The professor wrote back, “I have never forgotten that moment — I still share it on occasion with people.”

Whether it was the hand of God or an angel sent by Him to save that fellow, the professor and I both agree that someone in Madera was given more time that night. I wish I knew how he used it.


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