Saturday, March 6, 2010

Incident on the Rim

View from the Rim Trail, July 2009
Last night my children and their friend Marcus went out to take advantage of a free DVD rental.  On their way home, they called and asked if they could go hike the Mogollon Rim trail, one of their favorite hikes.  It was 5:30 pm by now, and  ordinarily I would have given them a firm "No," due to impending darkness.  I worry about them losing their trail in the dark.

Oddly, somehow I felt it would be fine for them to go this time and I gave them permission.  They stopped by home just long enough to pick up our dog, Diego, and Marcus's dog, Rowdy, and went off for their hike.

Snow on the Rim, February 2009 (closer to how it looks now)
At 6:30 the phone rang.  I heard Jacob's voice telling me, "Mom, I'm a little bit freaked out..."  My stomach immediately tightened with dread.  Moms hate conversations that start like that!

He proceeded to tell me that he had felt an "urge" to go down a path off the main trail.  As he and Diego ran down the path, he noticed a young man lying halfway under a fallen tree.  The man was so still, with his eyes open and staring blindly up at the sky, he thought at first he was dead.  Jacob asked the man several times if he was okay but got no response, so he ran back to find Sarah, Dylan, and Marcus.

The whole group returned to the man and kept shouting at him, trying to get a response without getting too close.  They said he seemed to be breathing all right and his skin color seemed normal, but he was practically comatose.  Marcus said the man's eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed, as if he'd been crying a lot.

They also noticed a helium tank and oxygen mask lying on the ground on the other side of the fallen tree.  It was the kind of helium you can buy at WalMart to fill your party balloons.  We've used it before ourselves.

Once I heard this, I understood that the man had probably overdosed while getting a "high" from the helium, and probably dropped the mask and tank when he collapsed. 

Sarah said the whole thing was spooky, so she stayed way back and took the task of holding onto both dogs' leashes.  Finally, the man barely nodded once when asked if he was okay.

The kids left him then, but they were uneasy about it.  That's when they called me.  Common sense told me to tell them to get back on the trail and hike back out to the highway that very instant, to be sure they were out of any potential danger.  I didn't know if the man had a weapon or even deranged buddies hanging out nearby.

Yet something whispered to me that it was okay and we needed to help this young man.  A feeling of peace came over me.  I told Jacob I would call 911.  It was growing dark outside by this time, so I told them to head back to the highway.  They could meet rescue workers there.

I called 911 and told them what I knew, then gave them Sarah's cell phone number (Jacob had used her phone to call me).  Jacob says a deputy called him soon after that.  It was 20 minutes before I heard the sirens (we live less than a mile from the Rim Trail) and knew my kids were in safe hands.  It was much longer than I expected, but apparently all our local law enforcement were attending a training in Show Low when they got the call.

An ambulance, 2 fire engines, and 4 sheriff's cars arrived all at once.  One of the deputies told the kids they'd received a report that the man might have a gun (that chilled my blood!). 

Jacob was about to lead the deputies to the victim when 2 men suddenly stepped out of the forest.  The sick man was being held up and led out of the woods by a male friend.  We have no idea when this new guy arrived or how he knew where to find his fallen friend.  The kids said the new guy's car was not there when they'd entered the trail earlier.

Later, Jacob took the deputies to find the "evidence" (helium tank and mask), but the two items had disappeared, most probably hidden by the man and his friend.  However, when the deputies searched both men's cars, they found the empty helium box.

The victim was in bad shape, barely able to hold himself up, so he was put into the ambulance and taken away.  The deputies were still questioning the friend and searching his car when a deputy told the kids they were free to go.

When it was all over, I suddenly realized it had never occurred to me to call a neighbor and ask them to drive me to the Rim area.  It would have been easy enough to do, and my first instinct has always been to be where my children are when they are in trouble.  Yet that feeling of peace had prevailed.  I somehow knew they were safe and would return home without harm.

This tells me that Heavenly Father has a plan for that young man.  Whatever his problems are, the Lord wanted him to be spared a lonely death in the woods.  I'm humbled that He chose my family to be a part of His plan, and pleased that my son heard the whisperings of the Spirit and responded to them.  I'm also grateful that my children and their friend were protected, and I'm even thankful that they took Diego and Rowdy along.  Who knows whether having two big dogs along kept some harm from them?

Now we pray that this young man will find a way to overcome his addictions and begin to live the life that his merciful Father in Heaven wants for him.


ashley broomall said...

oh my! i'm glad that sarah and jacob and their friend were safe. and i'm glad they were able to help this young man out. hopefully he will help himself out now and move on to what the Lord has planned for him. how scary!

Jill said...

What a suspenseful story. I love stories where you know heaven and earth were working together. This will be something Jacob will probably share on his mission!