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Barb Secrest’s Account of the Van Accident

Dear Brethren:
For those of you who don´t know (and to fill in details for those of you who do), our family along with three others from the church were involved in an automobile accident on our way home from the Sunday evening service here. At approximately 9:15 pm our time, we were finishing up with the transportaton of those who attended the church service. We were traveling toward a T intersection, ready to enter Route 67 about three blocks from our home. Barry applied the brakes with absolutely no result. As we entered the route, two motorcycles passed in front of our van, narrowly missing collision. Slowing down some with the help of the emergency brake, Barry executed a wider left turn onto the route in hopes of avoiding turn over. The right two tires, however, went off the pavement onto the gravel shoulder. The surface of the shoulder was several inches lower than the road and the police say that contributed to the turn over of the van. We made two quarter turns and the van ended up on its roof. Being an older van, the metal was very solid and there was very little compression of the chassy. After a few seconds of stunned silence, Julia, a regular attendee in her forties, alerted us to the flames starting up on the passenger side which was now facing the street.

After a few unsuccessful attempts at opening the doors. Barry was able to get the front passenger compartment door open where he, Anthony and I were seated. The unusual circumstance was that we were not wearing out seat belts, which made exiting the vehicle easier and probably saved our lives. Because of the turn, Anthony, our 6-year-old, ended up underneath us and we had to get out before Barry could reach out and get him out. Because he was in the vehicle longer, the gasoline-fueled fire traveled down to where he was and he suffered 1st and 2nd degrees burns on the right side of his face, his right ear and the back of his right hand. After overnight observation, he was released. In the back part of the van, Jonathan, Julia´s 16-year-old son, was kicking at the doors to try to at least break the glass.

Thomas, our 11-year-old, has been acting as doorman on transportation runs in the van since the door latches are difficult to operate. Due to that fact, he was sitting next to the door and once he got his bearings, opened the doors enabling all of those traveling in the rear section to get out. This included our 9-year-old David, Jonathan, Julia, medical student and regular church attendee Pablo, and himself. Thomas said that God put him on the right side of the car just so that he could open the doors. Since the gasoline was running out on that side, they all had to pass through the flames. Thomas and David only experienced singed hair and eyebrows. Thomas´ pants and boots caught on fire, but his beloved cowboy boots that his grandmother gave him saved his legs and he was able to roll and put out the fire.

Pablo´s clothing caught on fire and he sustained 1st and 2nd degree burns over 30% of his body before being able to roll and put out the flames with Jonathan´s assistance. He also suffered respiratory damage from smoke and fire inhalation. The doctors were most concerned about his internal injuries, but today his condition was markedly improved to the doctor´s amazement and he was moved out of ICU. His condition remains serious, please continue to pray. Jonathan stepped in the gasoline, his shoes caught on fire and his heels were burned. He is staying with the youth director and his family while his step-father, who has also made a profession of faith but was not present that evening, travels back and forth the visit Julia in the hospital. She was the last one out of the van and required my help to get clear and put out the fire on her clothing. She suffered 1st and 2nd degree burns over 80% of her body as well as respiratory damage from smoke and flame inhalation. At the present time, her condition is the most critical and her internal organs are affected. Pray for her, please. Barry suffered some burns and a cut to his right hand. Tomorrow (Wednesday) he goes back to the doctor for a redressing. Anthony has an appointment for Wednesday afternoon to see a plastic surgeon in Montevideo for an evaluation on how his wounds are healing and where to go from there. I suffered no burns or serious injuries with only the bumps and bruises from the roll-over.

Many are the things that we have thought of where God´s hand kept this from being a worse experience. Several who were normally in the van were not and so there were no children seated in the space in the very back over the motor. The fire progressed very quickly and would not have given sufficient time for more occupants to vacate the van before serious injury or death.

As far as the police investigation goes, Barry gave his statement yesterday afternoon. Their forensic findings confirmed his account of the events. He has another appointment with a forensics officer Thursday afternoon.

Thank you for your prayers! God is at work. The church folk here have rallied around all of us and we are proud to be a part of the Cornerstone Baptist family here in Las Piedras. We´ll try to keep you updated with any new information. ~Barb 


This is the Secrest family with Jillian when she was in Uruguay a year ago. L to R (back row): Barry, Thomas (11), Barb, Jillian, (front row) David (9), Anthony (6)


One Response

  1. […] posts concerning the Seacrests: “Secrest Accident“; “Barb Secrest’s Account of the Van Accident“; “Secrest […]

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