Azariah is bleeding…

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Halvert Roberts
  • 319th Communications Squadron
"Azariah is bleeding," my wife's voice broke the deafening silence, just as minutes earlier our Sunday routine was broken by the sound of screeching tires and the sickening crunch of steel being twisted and broken.

"Azariah is bleeding," my wife repeated. I turned away from the collapsed windshield to see one of my 20-month-old, twin daughters covered in snow and bleeding, which seemed to add to the numbness of the moment.

Only moments before I saw my babies covered in snow and blood, we were driving to church on Highway 2. The roads were deceivingly icy in spots and I slowed to what I felt was a safe speed.

At about 10:30 a.m., I attempted to switch lanes when I hit a patch of ice. I instantly lost control as I heard the wheels spin out of control seeking the traction that wasn't there. The vehicle slid off the road into the median and rolled off its wheels and back on them again.

Then silence.

"Azariah is bleeding," my wife said. Through the numbness of emotion and shock I responded to the sounds of my wife in panic and my children screaming. I tried to get my family out of the wreckage and into the van of a passerby as quickly as possible.

As I sat in the van and replayed the accident, I felt guilty, horrible. It was my fault I thought. I clutched my daughter close to ease her discomfort. The only sounds that left my mouth were, "I'm so sorry," over and over again.

My wife assured me it wasn't my fault. The ice was unpredictable.

Looking back, I believe her now. The ice was unpredictable, just as the passing of the van that kept us warm as we waited for emergency crews was unpredictable. I believe I did everything right that day. We were dressed warmly, I drove below the speed limit at a speed I thought was safe, and we had a cell phone to call for help; however, the most important thing I did that morning was buckle the safety belts and car seats around my family.

Seatbelts saved my life and car seats certainly saved the lives of my children that day. I'll never get behind the wheel, put my family in a vehicle or ride in a vehicle without wearing a seatbelt. They allowed me to hear my children laugh again after that day, and to them I am forever grateful.