The Lord is Good. His mercy's are everlasting and His truth endureth for all generations.
Many people have asked what happened. On October 10, I (Cassandra) left the house at 3:00 on Friday afternoon (Oct. 10) to drop off three of my children at Stacie's house (a friend at church). The car was packed with suitcases, pillows and all 8 of our children. Joshua, 13, was sitting in the front passenger side. I asked him to trade places with Autumn because I wanted to talk to her on the way. I remember he willingly gave up his seat with a sweet spirit. Autumn, 12, was now sitting in the passenger side and Joshua was behind her. Next to him was Mercy Anna, our 13 month old, in a 5 point harness. In the second bench seat was Melody, 10, Carissa, 9, and Serenity, 3. Serenity was in a booster seat. In the third bench was Timothy, 6, in a booster seat, and Stephen, 5, in a booster seat. We were heading south on 83. After thinking it over, I remember looking in the left side view mirror and when I looked up, I saw us going off the road. But I was too late, the embankment was steep and I saw a pole coming at us. I tried to swerve, all the children were screaming; I knew we were going to hit the telephone pole. I turned the wheel and we hit and somehow we rolled. The van was upside down, I had blood all in my face and eyes. All I kept thinking was, "I need to turn the engine off." I asked the Lord for strength and He allowed me to find the ignition. I knew if it was kept on we might blow. Next I unhooked Autumn's seat belt. Joshua was getting Mercy out. He succeeded in getting all the children out with the help off some teenagers. I knew I had to get out but I didn't want to leave Autumn. She was screaming.
With the help of some men, I was able to scoot out on my back. I left my foot in the wreck so Autumn could see some of me. Autumn's hand was caught under the car. When the car rolled, the car landed on her hand, pinning it to the ground. We sang, "The Lord is my shepherd" together until Daddy arrived. Tom, a man from our local middle school, held her hand. The Lord brought him as an angel of mercy to stay with Autumn until Daddy got there.
I was taken to Good Samaritan hospital and transferred to Grant in Columbus. Michael asked Joshua to go with Autumn, so he went with her in the ambulance to Good Samaritan. She was later life-flighted to Nationwide Children's hospital in Columbus. Before she left, I was able to say goodbye to her because they put us in the same trauma room together before they transported us to different places. I told her I could not come with her and Daddy could not come (he was with the other children). That was the hardest thing I had to say to her. I told her that Jesus was with her. Then I remembered that my Dad was already on his way to see us heading east on 70. So I promised her Papa would be there at Children's when she got there and she calmed down some.
Miraculously, my Dad (Papa) arrived at Children's 5 minutes before the helicopter did. (Michael had called him and asked him to go right to Children's when he heard Autumn was headed there). She had immediate surgery on her hand. She had an excellent surgeon who specializes in hand and finger surgeries. She lost her right pinky and ring finger, but kept her life. Her thumb was able to be saved.
I separated my shoulder, lacerated and fractured my nose and have many bruises. My face is pretty banged up; I have two black eyes. I was discharged from Grant at midnight. Pastor Bob Shaw and his wife Karen came to be with me, as well as Don and Kristy. What a comfort to have that human touch. My clothes were ruined in the wreck and I had nothing to wear. The Shaw's graciously went out and purchased everything I needed.
Melody was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital. Joshua was already there with Autumn so when she flew out, Joshua was able to comfort her until Ron Hinebaugh (from our church) and Perry Griffin (a visiting missionary) arrived. The other children were taken to Bethesda hospital to be checked out. My husband was with them with several other folks from church. Serenity was being checked out in the ER, she said, "Have you ever been in a crash and gone upside down?" Everyone had bruises but were miraculously not seriously injured. After several of them had CAT scans and were watched for a few hours, they were released.
We are so thankful for our dear church folks who helped us and did what needed to be done—especially staying with the younger children so Michael could get to Children's hospital to be with Autumn.
I still can not believe all the miracles that took place. God allowed the accident, but comforted us all along the way. My mind kept going over and over the verses in Isaiah 41:10 and Psalm 131.
We are praising the Lord for life and protection and for every little miracle. Here are a few of the more significant ones for which we give our Savior Jesus Christ all praise:
1. No one was killed. We still have all of our precious children with us.
>2. Joshua couldn't have fit in the tiny space Autumn had fallen in during the accident. It was providential that he was in the second seat and not in the front where Autumn was.
3. Autumn's head landed on her pillow. She does not have any bruises or head wounds because of this.
4. All the children's bucked secured them. I'm told the children received their injuries when they unbuckled themselves and fell out off their seats after the accident.
5. Joshua was the rock that kept all my children together and accounted for. The Lord gave him unusual strength to do what needed to be done.
6. My Dad was with Autumn the entire time at children's until Daddy (Michael) could come.
7. Autumn had a Christian nurse who cried with us and got on her knees beside the bed and prayed with all of us. We already knew her from the many previous times Autumn had been on this floor.
8. She had the best surgeon around.
9. We have the most wonderful Lord to comfort us.
The first thing Autumn told me when I saw her was, God has something special for me! Her Papa told her that! Amen!
Many of my children our suffering more emotionally know. Even I have to pray and sing and quote scripture to keep my mind off the accident. Pray especially for Joshua, Autumn and I, as well as the rest of the older children as we struggle with reliving the events. Please pray for physical and well as emotion healing. We know the Lord is the Great Physician of the mind and soul. We can trust Him.
My nephew has a quote, "God is good all the time, all the time God is Good". Amen!
Thank you all for praying for us. Your love and care is a great testimony to the grace of our Savior. May He be glorified in it all!
Cassandra De Leon
Our wrecked 15-passenger van
God reached down in love and rescued Cassandra from her sin at the age of 21: changing her life, purpose, and focus forever.