The Death Roll – Seat Belts and Angels

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

My car rolled several times in what is called the “death roll” and then flipped over on its top. The police and EMT’s said I should have been killed.  What saved my life?  Seat belts or angels?

The Death Roll

On my way home from work one day I had set my car on cruise control.  This helps me avoid speeding as sometimes I unintentionally get a little lead footed on my way home after a hard days work.  This day was nothing special.  I was listening to a Christian radio station where pastors give sermons 24/7.  As I was driving home, I suddenly saw a van back out of a driveway onto the roadway about 40 yards in front of me.  He must not have seen me backing out like he did and so I slowed down my car and flipped on my left turn signal quickly so I could pass him on the left hand lane which had no oncoming traffic visible.  As soon as I had started to pass him on the left, he suddenly turned into the next driveway.  I had to make a split-second decision.  Since I had no possible way of stopping in time, I thought, should I t-bone the van, hitting the driver on the driver’s side or should I take the ditch, thereby avoiding seriously injuring or killing the driver.  I choose to take the ditch.  When the van had backed out of the driveway, I was sure he must not have seen me because surely he wouldn’t have pulled out in front of me like that and his not seeing me was validated because as soon as he backed out of one driveway, he turned left heading into the next driveway, crossing over into the left lane of traffic.  This was further evidence that he must have never seen me because why would he pull out in front of me and then turn left directly into my path had he seen me coming?

I took the ditch to avoid t-boning the van and when I did, the slope of the ditch caused me to turn sideways and then my car went into what is called the “death roll.”  This is where a car rolls over and over on its side. Our church elder says that the funerals are primarily reserved for those who swerve to miss something or someone rather than just hitting what‘s in front of them.  My car rolled several times and then hit an embankment and flipped head over heels onto its top, directly in the middle of the highway, resting upside down.  I was pinned, being upside down, and the seat belt was nearly impossible to undo because my weight was pushing on it and I could not reach behind me to unclick the seat belt.  It was not until someone came to force my driver’s side door open where I could swing my feet out to the side where I could reach behind me and undo the seat belt.  When I did, I could only manage to crawl out of the vehicle due to intense pain at the time.

Seat Belts and Angels

I have never wanted to be a hypocrite and tell the church to wear seat belts and then I not do it.

While I was telling the ambulance driver what had happened, my first response was anger. I was mad that when the driver had backed out of the driveway he had obviously not looked because he quickly turned left into the next driveway.  He was a vacuum cleaner salesman, from what I learned, and he was doing door-to-door sales, going from one house to the next and so he must have been preoccupied by his canvassing the houses on the highway that I was driving down.  The EMT’s told me that had I not been wearing a seat belt, I would have been killed.  My car was totaled.  I later saw my car in the tow truck driver’s parking lot and it was a twisted heap of metal that after I saw it, I could not believe that I had survived.   On the way to the ER of the nearest hospital, my body had just gone through a great deal of trauma.  I had broken ribs, a bruised sternum, torn cartilage or muscle fibers and a huge chunk taken out of my scalp that required several staples to close my wound.   My bowels shutdown too for a full 7 days and I have since lost significant weight but I thanked God that I was still alive. The EMT’s, one of the local police staff, and the ambulance driver all said that I should have been killed.  Had I not been wearing my seat belt, there was no way that I could have survived and they believe it was a miracle that I had survived even wearing my seat belt.

The EMT’s told me that you must have had an angel riding with you because when a car goes into what is called the “death roll” so many times, there often are no survivors.   I have a mark across my upper chest where the seat belt was that held me but I have this strange mark that was just below the seat belt and looked to be about the size of a human hand.  This is where my sternum should have hit the steering wheel but for some reason, it didn’t  It was like I was being restrained by an unseen hand.  I can remember as I was rolling in the car that my wife might be a widow and my children would now be fatherless but something seemed to have steadied my body and it seemed to me that it was more than a seat belt.

A Time to Be Born, A Time to Die

I believe in angels because I believe in God.  God has said,All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16).   In Job 14:5  it is written that Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” and “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).  Indeed, there isa time to be born and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:2a). God is omniscient and He knows the exact moment of our birth and the very second of our death as the Psalmist wrote, My times are in your hands (Psalm 31:15a).  My time was obviously not yet. God is sovereign over all, including the number of our days and beyond all that we try to do with beauty creams, natural foods, and exercise, God determines our beginning of life and the ending.  We can not extend it but we can not end it anytime sooner than God already knows.  Was it an angel that helped save my life?  I may only know the answer to that after Christ’s return.

One of the very first things that I heard from my wife, the ambulance driver and since the accident, from many of my friends was this statement: God is not done with you yet.”  I can’t tell you how many times that I heard that expression that apparently God has something else for you yet to do.  That is the great thing about the gospel.  While a person is still capable of drawing a breath, they have the ability of being saved if they are not already a Christian.  For everyone that is still alive, God is still giving you a chance to come to Him to place your trust in Christ, and if you are already saved, He may be giving you more time to share the good news with your family, friends, co-workers, or your next door neighbor.

Don’t Tempt the Lord

I have never wanted to be a hypocrite and tell the church to wear seat belts and then I not do it.  Whether it was an angel or a seat belt or both that saved my life, the law says that we are to wear seat belts and Christians are to follow mankind’s laws where they don’t conflict with God’s laws.  The fact is we are commanded to follow the laws of the land (Romans 13:1-5) and the law says that we are to wear seat belts.   More than that, they more than double a person’s chances for surviving a fatal crash.  I believe we tempt the Lord when we break the laws of the land.  The laws of gravity, inertia, and force can not be compromised anymore than God’s laws and God commands us to obey those who are in authority over us and the authorities tell us to wear seat belts.  Romans 13:1-5 states:

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.  Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.”

Take a look at these other articles by Pastor Jack:


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