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CBN.com It was supposed to be a fun family outing for the Warrenders in Clear Creek State Park, Pennsylvania. Bruce, his wife Robin and their sons, Zachary and Andrew were in the park to help Zachary complete a Cub Scout activity project. But, when Bruce climbed a 30-foot rock and got stuck on top, suddenly the fun was over.
Bruce attempted to get down by himself by jumping to a lower rock. However, when he landed, his left ankle shattered and he slid on the rock’s slippery moss. By the time he landed, he was in fighting for his life.
When Robin stopped to get her bearings, she realized that Zachary and Andrew had been running with her. She made the difficult decision to send the boys back to be with their father.
“I felt that Bruce was dying,” Robin says. “I didn't want him to die by himself. I know that Jesus promises that He’ll walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death. I knew that I didn’t want him to leave this world without feeling the love of his kids.”
Andrew says, “I hurried up and ran back looking where he was. He asked us to pray for him so we started praying then Zack blew his whistle. I started screaming for help.”
“I was just saying, ‘Please? Anything, just let him be able to walk and please don’t let him die,’” says Zach. “I was praying (that) Dad would be okay, that God would save him. I was praying for Dad.”
Meanwhile, Robin had made it to the car and had found the cell phone. When she dialed 911, there was nothing but static. She remembered seeing a cabin on the way into the park. She knew she would have to drive to it for help.
“There was this big ravine off to the side, and there were no guardrails,” she says. “I just thought, God, You’ve got to keep this car on the road.”
Two forestry students were in the cabin when Robin arrived.
“I went running right inside, and I said, ‘I have to use your phone. My husband just fell off a rock. I think he’s dying.’ I picked up the phone, called 911, told him where we were at.
“I just went racing to the door. The minute my hand touched the doorknob it was like this overwhelming peace came over me. It said, ‘You have to pray.’ I just knew that prayer was going to be the only thing that got us through.”
Robin called her sister-in-law. “I said, ‘You just need to call every church you can think of and have Bruce put on prayer chains. I don’t think he’s going to make it.’ We found out later that Bruce was on prayer chains in three states.
“After I got off the phone with her, I went out the door, and I just laid across the roof of my car. I screamed. I just screamed.”
Robin rushed back to the scene of the accident. “My youngest one, Andrew, was right in his dad’s face. He’d say, ‘Daddy, you’re not going to die, are you?’ He’d pray, ‘Jesus, don’t let my daddy die.’ They just stayed by Bruce’s side. The only thing I could say over and over and over is ‘Jesus, hold his spine together.’”
By now, the rescue workers had arrived and stablized Bruce’s spine. They had began the delicate task of transporting Bruce along the rocky, uneven path when one of the men had a gran mal seizure.
Bruce’s basket was dropped, putting him at even greater risk for paralysis and possibly death.
Bruce’s injuries were so grave that the local hospital didn’t have the facilities to treat him. He had to be airlifted to Pittsburgh Presbyterian Hospital 20 minutes away.
Bruce’s neurosurgeon was Dr. William Welch. “What Mr. Warrender had was a fracture of the second vertebral body,” says Dr. Welch. “This vertebral body was crushed so that it was almost one half of its normal height. On top of that, he also fractured his tailbone, he had an ankle fracture, and he also broke his pelvis. So, it is fairly miraculous that he did make it to us in one piece, frankly.”
Bruce endured many surgeries, physical therapy, and intense pain. Today, Bruce is able to walk under his own power and is now retraining for work that is less physically taxing. Although he still struggles with pain and limited mobility, Bruce is thankful for God’s intervention when he tottered on the brink of death.
“I think the Lord had a calm,” Bruce says. “I had a peace about me, because after the boys had prayed for me, I knew He got it under control. I could actually feel the spirit going through the boys.
“That was extraordinary. That was supernatural. To see the kids do that, there was nothing like it. It lit me up. I was glowing.
“Where would I be today if it wasn’t for my kids and my wife? I would have died. They’re my heroes.”
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