Mike Yoder, former missionary to Germany with Grace Brethren International Missions and now completing his doctoral work on the north side of Chicago, was involved with his family in a serious auto accident yesterday (Tuesday). Many have been praying for the Yoders, and here is a slightly edited update from Mike as of Wednesday morning.
As you may have heard, we were involved in a serious car accident. We six Yoders left Northbrook early to spend some days down in North Carolina with Yoder family. Around 6am, we were on I-65 in Indiana south of Crown Point. The kids were asleep and Letitia and I were enjoying good conversation and expressing how “recommendable” such travel with sleeping kids could be. With some rain falling, we began to hit a somewhat icy patch. I attempted to moderately compensate for any slight sliding, resulting in ever increasing “fishtailing”. Finally, we barreled somewhat sideways into the snow covered median. There we struck a stationary, already jackknifed tractor-trailer. Our speed was probably at least 30mph, maybe more.
The next hour remains all too vivid in our memories as we attended to wounded, groggy, and cold children. (Letitia and I were remarkably uninjured in the accident, though definitely traumatized.) Police were already at the scene and ambulances arrived as fast as they could in light of the sleet-like weather. All kinds of unpleasant outcomes flashed through our minds, but God gave us moment-by-moment peace.
We all first went to Saint Anthony’s Hospital in Crown Point, overwhelming their emergency room with people and urgent needs. From there, Joshua and I were transported to the University of Chicago Comer Pediatric Hospital for special pediatric trauma care. We were met by our good friend, ER Dr. Rema Johnson, and soon after by family friends, Chris Palmer, and Jay Kreske. Several hours later, the rest of the crew came up in their own ambulance transport.
Alecia was the exception. She was taken by Laurence Claus and Chris Firestone, men from from our North Sub church, back to the Claus house. Laurence and Chris also recovered all of our belongings from our Honda Odyssey. I regret that anyone had to see our van, which is a rather ghastly sight.
The care at the University of Chicago has been world-class. All three older kids were admitted and we have seemingly seen every kind of physician available. In addition to the three friends who were first here to be with us, the Lee family joined us for much of the day. Galen and Elsie Wiley, Letitia’s parents, quickly flew to Chicago from Philadelphia and joined us in the late afternoon.
My parents my come in a second shift. We are receiving excellent care and have been shown incredible love and thoughtfulness. The kids seem to be doing well after the first 18 hours, considering the injuries.
Alecia – Alecia’s injuries were moderate. She had a small gash on the back of her head, which was stitched at the community hospital. More significantly, the accident caused two of her front baby teeth to be pushed somewhat backward. She will be having oral surgery tomorrow to see if the nerves and teeth can be saved and more or less in their right place. Letitia will be her and then they will come down to the University of Chicago. She is eager to see Mommy tonight.
Cedric – Cedric’s injuries were also moderate. He was on the impact side and his door sustained some of the impact. Cedric had a modest cut on his right temple which received stitches and looks good. He also has two fractured ribs in the mid back near the spinal column. Doctors are not overly concerned because it is in an area with a number of muscles.
He also has a slight adrenal contusion (above kidney?) and a slight laceration to his liver. He is being monitored and prognosis is good. He is quite agitated tonight without food or water. But tomorrow he can have both in abundance if the exam comes back positive. With food in his belly, he will be a happy camper. However, he will have to curtail his “active lifestyle” for awhile – a real sacrifice. He is expected to be in the hospital for perhaps 2 days.
Joshua – Joshua sustained the most significant injuries. He was in the back on the passenger side and received the brunt of the impact. Only God knows the possible outcomes, but we feel very fortunate to have our son alive and now stable. Joshua received a large gash on his forehead, a laceration on his right eyelid, multiple fractures around his eye sockets (esp. right), and nose bridge. The biggest concern has been brain damage – whether neurological, motor, or memory.
The first signs today have been as good as we could expect … many positive signs. The next 24 will reveal a lot more. He is responsive to commands to touch, squeeze, hold. He has also spoken despite significant sedation. He just came out of a five-hour facial surgery and the reports are great. We praise God. Obviously, his face will look different for awhile after major surgery. But the long-term prognosis looks good. Pray for my “Buddy Boy”. He is likely to be in the hospital for at least a week.
Hannah – Hannah is probably doing the best. The fact that she is playing Monopoly with her good friend, Kate Lee, is a good sign. She has a moderately lacerated liver. Doctors will monitor that and tomorrow morning will indicate if there are any issues. If not, good healing is expected. Pain is very modest. Her challenge has also been no food or liquids today. She and Cedric will eat like kings and queens tomorrow if the morning reports are good. Hannah will probably be hospitalized 2-3 days.
Around noon we were visited by a Chicago Bears player, a chaplain, a coach, among others. They make regular trips to the hospital as part of special program for sick or wounded children, and we were here at the right time for that. Joshua missed it all. But as they surrounded his bed to pray a heartfelt prayer with us, I could only be amazed. Joshua will never know how touching this was. But I will never forget. The Bears had just played 14 hours previously in Minnesota. God is certainly creative!
We have a ton of people to thank thus far – people who have come to the hospital (Dr. Rema Johnson, Jay Kreske, Chris Palmer, Jiyoung Lee and kids, Clouds, etc.), people who have helped with kids and transport (Laurence and Kate Claus, Chris Firestone), many from North Sub who have prayed and offered help, a CHA school family beyond amazing, GBIM mission staff making multiple calls, mobilizing prayer around the world, helping with insurance and logistical issues, family who have prayed beyond what we know, and many others whom we will name in later updates. And all that is one day.
Dozens of you have offered to help, and we will let you know what needs we have going forward. Thanks for your eagerness to help as well as your patience with us. The many phone calls have been a wonderful blessing.
Other than fatigue, we are hold tight to some precious truths: 1) God is sovereign and good in all things, 2) we are loved by God and his people way more than anything we deserve, 3) we are blessed to live in this day and age and location with this kind of medical care, 4) we know that you will be praying for us. Thank you, friends. You have blessed us and we are grateful for your continued prayer and help. By all means, pray. Our Father hears his people.
This will be a different kind of Christmas, and nothing like we would ever plan. But God is before us, beside us, and behind us. “Emmanuel” will forever take on new meaning for the Yoder family.