Family reflects on 'miracle'

July 02, 1997


Staff Writer

HUYETT - Earl Flanary Jr. on Tuesday stood over what is left of his Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

The car, sitting in the lot of Interstate Towing and Recovery off U.S. 40, was rusted and mangled, its trunk folded over its back seat, its insides burned and gutted.

All of the upholstery had disintegrated and a tiny, charred shoe was still wedged between the front and back seats.

It had been six days since a fiery collision between the car and a cement mixer on U.S. 40, but from the looks of the car, it could just as well have been six years.

"It's hard to believe that we made it out," said Flanary, slowing shaking his head. "I don't know whether to use the word `amazed' or what."


Flanary, 37, said he is not sure how he and his two children survived the spectacular crash, which occurred on Rufus Wilson Road at about 9:40 a.m. last Thursday. Witnesses said Flanary and sons Jordan, 7, and Sam, 5, were very lucky.

Flanary has a different answer.

"It was the hand of God protecting us," he said. "I don't believe in luck."

When he regained his senses after the collision, Flanary said the cement truck was still pushing his car downhill. After the vehicle stopped, he grabbed Jordan from the front seat and climbed out through the driver's side window.

When he got out, he said he could see the vehicle was on fire. He reached inside and, with the help of the truck driver, freed Sam from the back seat.

Flanary said his son was not wearing a seat belt in the back seat and was instead leaning forward between the two front seats. Looking at the tangled mess of twisted metal, Flanary said Tuesday that he is glad.

"In this case, I'm glad he wasn't wearing it," he said.

Flanary said he also was glad that his wife decided to stay home with their newborn son, Kyle. Had they been sitting in the back seat, he said they almost surely would have died in the crash.

"We were planning on going along," Lisa Flanary said. "At the last minute, I decided to do chores. Right there in that corner is where me and the baby would have been sitting."

The crash turned a routine 15-minute drive into a harrowing experience. Flanary said he had just put power-steering fluid in the car and had gone for a drive to test it.

A.E. Snyder, Lisa's father, said he could not believe the wreck did not cause more serious injury when he saw the aftermath.

"It was a miracle," he said. "It seems like there ain't no way anyone in the back could have survived."

Lisa Flanary said the accident has assured that she will not take her loved ones for granted.

"Just the thoughts moving through your mind," she said. "It makes you learn to appreciate your family more."

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