By Stan Friedman
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (May 9, 2011) – Rodney Beavers suffered extensive injuries and nearly died last February when his vehicle was struck head-on by a semi-trailer, but his sense of humor remains undamaged.
“I wish it had been under different circumstances, but I got a facelift and (wife) Cindi got a nose job,” he says, laughing. “They’ve got my eyes pulled so tight, I can’t squint.”
The Westmoore Covenant Church executive pastor and his wife returned home April 7 from a Colorado rehabilitation hospital. They spoke briefly during each of the church’s four Easter services.
“It was so great to see them up there,” said Tanya Secrist, the church’s office manager.
“It was just so powerful,” says Beavers. “I had attended a couple of times already, but it was the first time for Cindi. It was very healing for her.”
Rodney says he was overwhelmed by the concern shown by people around the country, including those the family had never met. Members of Arvada Covenant Church donated two cars, one for his dad and mother, as well as his mother-in-law to use for six weeks.
The Beavers were on vacation when a tractor-trailer traveling down a mountain road near Durango, Colorado, smashed head-on into their sport utility vehicle, knocking it backwards 150 feet. A friend who saw the Beavers’ vehicle after the accident said it was a miracle anyone survived (accompanying photo).
The couple was hospitalized for several weeks at St. Anthony’s Trauma Center in Denver. Rodney suffered multiple broken bones in his face, chest, and arms, as well as bleeding on the brain. A nine-inch stick was embedded five inches deep under his arm, but missed internal organs. Cindi suffered a fractured skull, a punctured lung, and abdominal injuries.
“I say I’m blessed because I shouldn’t have made it,” Rodney says. He was trapped in the vehicle for three hours before being extricated. He only survived during that time because the temperature was in the teens, which slowed his vitals.
Rodney doesn’t remember the accident or the first several days in the hospital. He does recall waking up in the hospital to find friends and relatives standing around his bed. “I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, what did I do?’ ”
He then asked about his family and learned that Cindi had survived and was in another hospital, although he didn’t learn about the extent of her injuries at the time. He then saw the couple’s two children, 18-year-old daughter, Morgan, and 12-year-old son, Preston, who had been traveling with their parents, but suffered only minor injuries.
“Once I found out they were okay, it was a lot better.”
He later learned that his daughter had rolled her wheelchair to the room where the truck driver was being treated to reassure him the accident wasn’t his fault because he was trying to steer the out-of-control truck onto a runaway ramp.
“The highway patrol was not happy with her talking to him. They said she was hindering the investigation,” Rodney says, laughing.
“She just said she didn’t care,” he added. “I was proud she did that.”
His only memory from the hospital prior to waking up was of Westmoore’s senior pastor, Paul Cunningham, telling him that he had been in an accident. “I thought this is a dream. I haven’t been in an accident.” After he had the “dream” a third time, he realized he had been in an accident, but then forgot about it before he woke up.
Cindi doesn’t remember the first three weeks of being in the hospital, Rodney says. Ultimately, she was treated at two medical facilities, and he was treated at four.
Cindi has returned part-time to her work at a credit union, and he is working part-time at the church. Rodney says he probably would work more, except he still has so many physician and physical therapy follow-up appointments.