They say God works in mysterious ways. Beatrice Madill would agree.
A deeply religious woman, she believes God used a car crash to answer her prayers.
Three weeks ago Madill, 76, lost control over her vehicle on Old River Road near Hermiston. It flew over a guardrail, rolled and landed sideways, precariously suspended 10 feet above a creek. Her dramatic rescue, which involved firefighters rappelling from a ladder truck to pull her out, made the front page of the East Oregonian.
"I must have hit gravel at the turn, at least that's what they tell me," she said. "I don't remember anything until I found myself hanging from the seat belts in the car."
She remembers yelling frantically for someone to break the windows and get her out. Cassidy Brown, who had seen the accident and rushed to help, yelled back that she needed to stop moving around because the car was ready to fall. Ever ready to give God credit, Madill said she was too panicked to listen so "the Lord shut me up and I fell unconscious."
Madill was awake again by the time she was pulled from the wreckage an hour later, but she says she doesn't remember it. She woke up four days later in Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland with two fractured ribs, a bruised lung and a broken back.
A back surgery four years prior had left Madill bent over and needing a cane to get around. Doctors were at a loss to straighten her spine, and fellow volunteers at Good Samaritan Ministries had held a special round of prayers a few weeks before to the crash, asking God to help her walk upright again.
The accident caused Madill to need another surgery to fix her broken back, and she's been delighted to find post-surgery that she can stand up straight again.
"You don't ever pray for an automobile accident to happen, but people were praying for me to be able to stand up straight and that's what happened," Madill said.
The experience has also been a faith-affirming moment for the rest of the all-volunteer staff at Good Samaritan Ministries, a Christian nonprofit that provides free lay counseling services to anyone who walks in the door.
"We prayed for God to heal and straighten her back," director Linda Davis said. "God doesn't cause accidents -- accidents happen -- but God does use these things."
Davis said when Madill didn't show up to a class the night of the crash, one of the volunteers suddenly realized the pictures she saw on Facebook that afternoon might have included Madill's car.
"I saw her eyes get as big as saucers and she jumped up and walked out," Davis said. "Then she came back and asked to talk to me. She said, 'I have to find out if this is Bea.' We soon found out it was, so we all got in a big circle and prayed for her."
Davis said Madill is a beloved member of Good Samaritan Ministries, one of six counselors on staff.
Madill said she started providing free counseling through Good Samaritan Ministries about three years ago. She came in to seek counseling after her husband died and eventually decided to dust off her master's degree in psychology and transition from client to counselor.
"I'm delighted to volunteer there," she said. "As an old lady it gives me new life."
She said she believes there were angels sent to keep her car from falling into the creek and crushing her because she isn't done with her life's mission of helping people through counseling.
Madill described the whole chain of events as miraculous -- it was a miracle someone saw her car go off the road, it was a miracle she wasn't killed and it was a miracle doctors were able to make her back better than it was before the accident.
"I've been given another life. That's how I feel, and I'm so grateful I can't stand it," she said.
Madill plans to move into an assisted living facility but continue counseling three days a week at Good Samaritan Ministries after she is done with her rehabilitation.
Contact Jade McDowell at email@example.com or 541-564-4536.