‘It was a God thing’
DUNDEE — The first thing Sheila Bos remembers after being thrown from their vehicle is opening her eyes and screaming for her husband, Dave.
The second thing she remembers is a man kneeling beside her and holding her hand. That man was the driver of the car that had just T-boned their Suburban.
“He was holding my hand and I said, ‘Don’t let me die. I’m ready to die … but don’t let me die.’”
That contradiction of emotions summarizes the whole nightmare experience for Sheila, Dave and their daughter, Kamaria, also in the car at the time of the crash. They all knew where they’d go if they died, but none of them were really looking to go to heaven quite yet.
May 4, in Mankato
It was May 4, a beautiful Sunday evening in southwest Minnesota. Dave and Sheila had just dropped off their daughter, Quinn, a student at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul. They had met up with her roommate in Mankato, thereby cutting their trip from Dundee in half. They stopped for coffee and then merged onto the highway, and Dave set the cruise control at 63 mph. They were in no hurry.
Kamaria was having trouble with her seat belt, and Sheila unbuckled hers to lend a hand.
They passed the U.S. 169 intersection, and two semis passed them on the left. Just then they saw a white pickup coming into the median. It was going fast.
“I looked again and he was coming right at me,” recounted Dave. “I screamed, ‘He’s not going to stop!’”
The pickup struck them right where Kamaria was sitting in the back seat. They rolled two and a half times, finally landing upside down.
“It was almost like a movie soundtrack,” said Dave. “I remember crunching steel and breaking glass. I was yelling. I remember hanging upside down, and then I fell on the roof and climbed out the passenger side. I was spitting out what I thought was broken teeth but it was broken glass.
“And then I heard Sheila yelling, ‘Find Kamaria!’”
Dave didn’t see Kamaria anywhere outside of the vehicle, so he climbed back into the car. That’s where he found his daughter.
“I could hear her breathing, so I knew she was OK,” he said. “I lay beside her until the ambulance came.”
Sheila, lying on the side of the road, couldn’t tell what was happening.
“My legs felt like a dead weight and something was happening to my calf,” Sheila recalled. “It felt like it took forever for the ambulance to come. I told the man holding my hand to keep talking to me.”
And then, Sheila remembers, she felt an overwhelming peace come over her.
“It was a God thing,” Sheila said with conviction. “I was so calm and I gave Kamaria to the Lord, and I’m usually not like that. I usually get stressed.”
Dave and Sheila were amazed by the numbers of people who stopped to help. They have nothing but praise for the state troopers, hospital staff, the social worker and the chaplain in the emergency room.
They also were amazed they were alive.
“The whole thing was a witness of God’s grace and protection — all the ways God orchestrated it,” Dave said. “For a moment I was surprised and then I thought, ‘Why am I surprised?’ God has a plan, and there is a reason for everything.”
Dave spoke to a state trooper later who told him that when that type of accident happens, there is always a bad ending. But for Dave, Sheila and Kamaria, the ending was incredibly good.
When the rescue workers arrived, all three were taken to the hospital in Mankato. Kamaria’s injuries were found to be so severe that she was airlifted almost immediately to St. Marys in Rochester. Sheila remained in Mankato for a few hours and then she, too, was transferred to the same hospital as her daughter.
Dave, remarkably, was released from the hospital that night, suffering only from a bruised back and ribs and a lacerated arm. He is still finding glass in his arm six weeks later.
It was he who called their daughter, Quinn, by then back in St. Paul. Understandably, she was devastated. Facing finals week and intense guilt, she didn’t know what to do until, as she wept and prayed, her pastor — John Stewart from First Covenant Church in Worthington — reached her on her cell phone and told her, “Go to your family.”
Quinn’s cousin, Josh, also in the Twin Cities, drove her down to Rochester. Dave and Sheila’s son Christian, home in Dundee because he had too much homework to join the family on their trip, was brought to Rochester by Dave’s parents.
Dave, meanwhile, still in Mankato, stopped at Walmart to get some clothes — his had been cut off of his body — and then headed to Rochester to join his family. There, hours later when sitting beside Sheila, he suddenly didn’t feel well. His nephew, Josh, called the nurse, and when she got to him, she realized that he was having a seizure.
“They took me to the ER and cut off my clothes again,” Dave laughed. “Turns out the seizure was just an adrenaline release. My body had had enough. It was a stress thing. They couldn’t find anything wrong with me.”
Meanwhile, Kamaria was in the ICU, where she remained for a week. Her injuries were so extensive that her doctor told Dave that he didn’t know how she survived.
“He said there was no worldly explanation,” Dave said, choking up at the memory. “He wouldn’t call it a miracle, but it was.”
Kamaria’s skull was fractured, her face torn open and her eardrum lacerated. Her collarbone was shattered. She still suffers from short-term memory loss, though there has been improvement. She does remember how well she was treated in the hospital where, according to her parents, she was the belle of the ball.
“All the nurses loved Kamaria,” Dave said. “They all wanted to care for her.”
“They were very nice people,” Kamaria remembered.
Sheila suffered from two fractures in her pelvis and one in her sacrum. She still has swelling issues in her leg. She and Kamaria stayed in the hospital for a week and then were both moved to Rehab Therapy at St. Marys hospital. They remained there for a week and a half, and Dave stayed with them the entire time.
“Everyone at work (Sanford Home Medical out of Windom) was wonderful,” said Dave. “They gave me time off and so many people — even people I didn’t really know — donated vacation time, sent gifts and cards.”
Sheila, too, has nothing but thanks for her co-workers at Maple Lawn Nursing Home in Fulda.
“They made meals for us for two weeks nightly when we got home,” she said. “How does anyone get through this sort of thing without people who are there for them in their time of need? It’s been humbling.
“I can’t say enough about our church family, too. I’m honestly amazed. It’s easier for me to give than to receive … but someone has to receive.”
Dave too, marveled at the way things worked out for Quinn and Christian, missing school and facing summer plans.
“God came down and worked it all out,” he said. “I had gone on a mission trip several years ago where I met and became friends with Jim Johnson, the guy in charge of Student Relations at Quinn’s school. I called him up and he prayed with me, and he took care of everything for Quinn. Mr. Slaathaug, too, the principal at Fulda High School, said not to worry about a thing for Christian. Everybody took care of us.”
Friends and family from as far away as Michigan and California came to stay with the recovering patients, giving them encouragement and a shoulder to cry on.
“God’s timing was perfect,” Sheila said. “One group would go, and another would come. We needed the distraction. They helped keep our minds off of stuff. God’s love just shone through people.”
Even their daughter, Quinn, became a huge encouragement from far away.
“Quinn went to work at Portage Lake Bible Camp in Michigan,” Sheila explained. “I was having a hard day the other day and she randomly texted me James 1:2 — ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.’ God had laid it on her heart.”
Son Christian and nephew Josh were a tremendous encouragement through it all.
“An ICU nurse came to me and said, ‘I want you to know that you have the two most amazing boys. I want you to know how special they are,’” said Dave. “It reinforces for me as a father how thankful I am that the Lord spared our lives.”
“This story is not done,” Dave continued. “There is more to come. God can use this. I don’t want life to go back to the way it was before. Not that it was bad, but I want to keep that clarity. It’s a funny way God has of bringing clarity into your life.”
Dave sees the whole experience as a wakeup call.
“It’s a reminder how we’re supposed to live our lives every day,” he said. “I don’t want to waste my life on unimportant things. When so many people come to help you, it makes you realize how much more you can do for others.”
“Everyone has a story and we have to use it for the good,” Sheila agreed. “I keep telling Kamaria, ‘Keep positive and keep going.’”
“We’re not anyone special like Billy Graham,” added Dave. “But maybe God just wants us to do the little things well. Yes, we’ve asked ‘why’ it happened … but maybe that’s why.”