On the feast day of Our Lady of the Seven Joys, Our Lady preserved my family and I from death. It was August 26th, a warm summer Saturday. We were on our way to bring my sister to Franciscan University of Steubenville. We had left early, however, to spend time in the Amish County in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We had interest in a farm tour and were able to pet the goats, hold some rather annoying and squirmy piglets, feed a baby cow, and even milk a cow. After the farm tour, we stopped at an Amish market to buy some farm fresh items. Once we finished at the market, we were on our way. All the farmland on our drive was beautiful, but after a while it gets pretty boring just seeing grass, trees, and grazing cows. To distract myself from boredom, I began to read. We had been driving for about an hour and a half when one of the most frightening experiences of my life occurred. Suddenly, the car began to swerve into the other lanes of I-76 West. The fact that we were swerving was odd, considering that my grandfather, who was driving, had both hands on the wheel. I saw our rental van go into the left lane, then the right lane, almost hit the guardrail and back into the left lane. Still swerving, we returned into the right lane when the rollover accident occurred. I remember seeing us go up a hill and within seconds all I saw was a ton of my sister’s college stuff flying all over the car. I heard a bunch of pieces of the car being crushed as I was being thrown side to side. I realized we were in a car accident and this overwhelming calmness overcame me. I started to think, “If this is death, it is such a weird feeling.” Then I started to pray the Hail Mary. I hadn’t even finished praying the first two words “Hail Mary” when the car came to a halt. The van landed on its left side, the driver’s side. My family and I were unaware as to where we were. Were we in a ditch? Were we still on the highway? Were we in the woods? We had no idea where anything in the vehicle was, especially the phones. How would we call for help?

The Queen of the Highways provided about 12 “guardian angels” to our aid. We couldn’t see anything outside of the windows, due to the deployment of the airbags. The passengers on the right hand side were suspended in mid-air, which were my mom and I. My sister and grandfather were tilted on the ground. I remember my sister said the car was smoking. Our main concern was to evacuate the car swiftly, in case the car ignited. Thinking it was a fire, I unbuckled my seatbelt, and fell on top of my sister. Using the armrest of my seat, I pulled myself up. In an attempt to escape, I pushed my vehicle door — which had the only window that wasn’t broken — off its hinges. The door began to fall into the car due to the gravitational pull of the Earth. By this time, my sister, who was sitting to my left, had freed herself from her seatbelt and helped me push the door out. I then proceeded to climb out of the car and jump down to the ground, which was an approximately 7-8 foot jump. As I was exiting the car, witnesses began to stop and come toward the car. They started to help us by picking up the things that were scattered all over the highway scene. Afterwards, my sister and my mom jumped out of the car. As my grandfather got out of the car, the “guardian angels” helped him with the jump. We then looked at the scene. We had gone off the road, over a fence, and landed on a dirt road about 4 feet away from hitting a tree. We later found out from local residents that they had heard the crash and that we were about 30 minutes from the town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The state police showed up, and then the ambulance came. While we were in the ambulance, the towing company arrived to put the car upright on its wheels. By the time we were done in the ambulance, most of my sister’s spread out belongings had been picked up and bagged. We later found out the smoke originated when the airbags deployed. Once the van was on its wheels, I went into the car. While searching for needed and valuable items, I stumbled on our book, Meditations on Death by Thomas á Kempis, which we had been reading before we left on the trip. The book seemed to mock the occasion, but it actually made me laugh. Then another lady — most likely in her late 50’s or early 60’s — arrived to ask us if we needed any help and offered to pay for a hotel room. The state trooper asked us if we needed anything, so I asked for him to call a priest, to which he responded that he didn’t have one on file. I was going to retort that he could look one up — considering he had a cell phone in his hands — but I gave up. After we figured out where our totaled van would be and got the stuff we would need for the night, the very charitable towing truck man gave us a ride to the hospital.

At the hospital, after about 4 hours, we found out that we were miraculously all okay with minor injuries. All we had were bruises and sores, with the exception of my grandfather who had cuts on his hand from the glass. We had no internal bleeding from the seatbelts. When we were discharged from the hospital, the receptionist who had checked us in offered us transportation to the hotel. Most of the hotels were all booked out due to a car show in town. We eventually found a hotel after trying about five different hotels. We finally got some rest and all woke up very sore.

We found a Mass and were able to ask my sister’s friend to call us an Uber to get to Mass. After the Mass, parishoners drove us back to the hotel, where my mom made calls for about 2 hours and was able to get another vehicle from the rental company. It was very nerve-racking to go in a car after the catastrophe. We went to the towing company, sorted all our stuff out of the car and loaded it into my sister’s friends’ cars. Thanks be to Our Lady, not much was destroyed except some small decorations and mugs. We got to Steubenville safely that night.

Looking back, the Blessed Virgin Mary blessed us with all the “guardian angels;”the towing truck man who gave us rides and opened the gate for us to get our stuff at no charge — which would’ve been a $300 fee — the hospital receptionist who helped us on our search for a hotel and who was willing to drive to many hotels, the hotel staff, the parishoners who gave us a ride back to our hotel from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, my sister’s friend who got us an Uber, and my sister’s friends who drove four hours to help us transport my sister’s belongings to the university.

My grandfather said that someone helped him remove his seatbelt. This wasn’t humanly possible because none of us had gone into the car after we jumped out. Also none of the bystanders entered the car. I personally believe it was my grandfather’s guardian angel that assisted my grandfather in his escape from the car. The car accident wasn’t my grandfather’s fault because he has never gotten into a car accident in all the years he has been driving. We are positive it was a malfunction of the car since it was a rental, or it could have been a defect with the power steering wheel. We were reluctant to tell my grandmother because of how she would be affected by this. We were relieved to discover that she had been praying for us during our travels. My sister believes the reason she survived was because she hadn’t been wearing her scapular. After this experience, she never goes anywhere without her scapular. We were definitely blessed that the car also didn’t blow up. My family and I believe in the power of the daily rosary and see its benefits in our miraculous survival as we had prayed it that day.

When I think of all these events, I am left in wonder at God’s infinite power and love for us. I recall the words in the last prayer of the rosary, “May the Divine Assistance remain always with us,” for in our time of tribulation it assisted us.