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Intervention on State Route 99

Phil worked for the Fresno County Sheriff’s office, but he lived in Madera. On the evening of June 10, 1999, while driving north on State Route 99, he came upon an accident that had just happened.

Not far from the Yosemite Avenue bridge he saw the wreckage of a four door Acura lying upside down near the right embankment.

Phil instinctively pulled over and hurried to the wreck. Looking through the back window he could see the figure of a woman held upside down by her seatbelt. Was she dead? Was she conscious? Phil found out when he spoke to her, and she answered. Nancy Simpson had miraculously survived.

Kneeling down beside the crushed vehicle, Phil was amazed to find the engine still running. He instructed Nancy to turn it off. She complied. He then assured her that he would remain with her until help arrived.

Nancy had been taking classes at Fresno State and had just finished a three-week course that night. Ironically, it was a Peace and Conflict class, which met for four hours each session. The assignments were completed in teams, so the students got to know each other.

On this final night of class, her team made a presentation and turned in a paper. She had been up late the night before, finishing up her report, so she was already tired, but at that time, she was very much accustomed to “burning the candle at both ends.”

When all of the presentations were finished, Nancy and her cohorts celebrated by having a potluck, which lasted until 10:30 that night.

On the way home, Nancy began to fight sleep. The distance from Fresno to Madera seemed such a long way, and with every mile she became drowsier. With eyelids heavy, Nancy almost made it home, but just as she was nearing Madera’s 4th Street exit, fatigue took over, and she closed her eyes. She went to sleep. At that point, God took charge. Suddenly she woke up.

Now wide awake, Nancy found herself coming up on a tractor-trailer rig right in front of her. She frantically turned the wheel to avoid hitting the trailer. That put her in a series of spins that took her to the embankment. It all seemed like a dream; everything moved in slow motion. Her car went onto the embankment and rolled over on its top with the engine still running and the radio on. She was held tightly in her seat upside down, but she was unhurt.

It may have seemed like slow motion, but in reality it had all rapidly unfolded. After her car came to rest, a vehicle pulled over and stopped. A man got out; it was Phil. She never saw his face and never learned his last name, but Nancy never forgot Phil. He stayed with her until the police and ambulance arrived.

They extracted Nancy through the rear window and took her to the hospital. A few minutes later David, her husband, received a call telling him Nancy had been in an accident and asking him to go to the hospital. They did not tell him of her condition. He didn’t know if she was dead or alive until he saw her on the gurney at the hospital, totally unharmed.

A few days later, David and Nancy went to the wrecking yard to see the wreckage of her car. As they stood there looking at the remains of her Acura, the owner of the wrecking yard asked David if anybody in that wreck had lived. That’s when Nancy realized the enormity of her miracle.

This crash could have been tragic for her in many ways if she had not been awakened at the precise moment. A second later and she would have hit the truck or the bridge, or she could have hit another car, or had a head-on collision.

Instead, something woke her up, and the car whipped round and round and finally landed upside down. Nancy was held firmly in her seat, unharmed.

Today Nancy affirms her belief that God had preserved her that night 23 years ago.

“I remember it as if it were yesterday,” she says. “It was a miracle I was not killed that night, and I am thankful to God that I survived it. He has blessed me many times since that day, and someday when He is ready for me to leave this earth, I will be thankful to be with Him.”

Until then Nancy will continue to serve Him and others in the work He saved for her to do.


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