Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007, at about 4:30 pm
It was the first Tuesday of the month, which for our family means that Corrine had a La Leche League meeting to go to in the evening. Corrine came by where I was working to exchange vehicles and drop off the boys. She took off with the little truck, and left me with the Suburban and five hungry boys. I took a break from work to feed the boys and do an errand or two. Since it closes at 5pm, I decided to go to the Scouting Resource Center first, to exchange some hats and get some Merit Badge books.
I was coming from Sunset, south on Paradise, making a u-turn around Warm Springs; and while making the U-turn, there was a momentary loss of power and a puff of dark gray smoke. The power resumed, and my only thought was to get out of the road, so I continued on into the parking lot of the Scouting Resource Center. I realized that I did not have any power steering and braking as I saw more smoke and flames. I tried to put it into park, but it continued to coast for a few more yards. At that point, all I could think about was getting the boys out of the truck. I yelled, "GET OUT", and then raced around to the driver's side passenger door to get William out of his car seat. While doing that, I looked straight at Harry and yelled again, "GET OUT". Seating was; me (Jason) driving, Joseph (14) in the front passenger seat, Cramer (12) was in the second row behind Joseph, William (18 months) in the middle of the second row, Travis (10) behind me in the second row, and Harry (7) in the third row behind Travis. Joseph and Cramer exited out the passenger side doors, Travis and I exited out of the driver's side door, I leaned into the door where Travis had been and pulled William from the carseat, and I did not notice that Harry followed us out of that door, but I am extremely grateful that Harry got himself out.
I would stop my account for the briefest moment to praise God for my family and those who have influenced our family, and to express my profound gratitude for the teaching and example of the likes of the Bluedorns, the Pearls, and our friends from Classed (a Yahoo group), and the parenting and child-training choices that led to our children being mostly first-time-obedient. I believe that it saved their lives, especially Harry's life.
I called 911 and was transfered immediately to the fire division. One fire engine arrived in a few minutes (maybe 4 or 5 minutes) and immediately started working to put out the fire. (At this point, Corrine called to complain of the heat on the freeway in my unairconditioned Ranger truck. I informed her that, at this time, it was hotter in the Suburban, which was completely engulfed in flames. She immediately changed plans - La Leche League was, for the first time ever, not her priority. In eight years, this was the very first La Leche League meeting Corrine has ever missed.) The fire appeared to be out and re-started three times. The firemen finally resorted to using foam to put out the fire. The Suburban and all of it's contents were completely destroyed. You can not tell that there had been a car seat in the second row. If you saw a big cloud of black smoke from about 4:30 pm to about 4:45 pm in the area of 215 & Warm Springs, that was us. Later on, a second fire engine (The Hazardous Materials Response Team) arrived. They helped with the cleaning up of the mess, mostly the gasoline.
Corrine's dad showed up and took the four older boys to their house to feed them, and Mary, Jonathan and Sarah Wright showed up to lend support. I spent literally hours on the phone with various people at the insurance company. The fire trucks eventually left, and the tow truck eventually arrived and took what was left of the Suburban away.
Gratitude. I am thankful to God. But for the grace of God, myself and my boys would not be alive. To my boys, for obeying and behaving when it really mattered. I am grateful for my wife, who dropped her plans in a moment and was a great help in coordinating people and rides while I was on the phone with various persons from the insurance company. For Dennis and Kathy Kesner (Corrine's parents), who once again dropped everything to help with the boys. For the Scouts, men and boys, who were prepared to provide support, and especially for Eagle Scout Brad, for the great pictures, and for Mr. Frank Hutchings, for staying late and keeping the doors open for us. For the Wrights, for moral support. For Captain Jimmy Johnson and the Clark County Fire Department, for prompt and professional help. For Michelle and Progressive Insurance Company for being at the other end of the phone the evening before a holiday. For Marcie, Corrine's LLL coLeader, and her husband Frank, who did whatever was needed to make sure the LLL meeting went off well without Corrine, and for the other moms who were there to provide support to Marcie. For Corrine's business partner, Maggie, for a replacement car seat for William. For Roger and Caring Nurses, for offers of help, rides and support. For so many friends, for your prayers and offers of help.
What now? We will need to work with our insurance company to see what we can do to replace our family vehicle. We will need to see what can be done to replace the 8 seats that were to take men and boys to our boys' favorite Boy Scout event of the year, "Camp Geronimo", in Arizona, leaving this coming Saturday morning. Corrine and I also need to replace quite a bit of work equipment.
God is so good to us.