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A Deadly Errand With An Unlikely Outcome

Joe and Cecilia went missing when a simple errand turned into a horrific accident. After they were found, prayers for a miracle became desperate. Read Transcript

It was really terrifying.

It was really terrifying and surreal, thinking of my family.

And everybody's probably grilling hot dogs.

And they had no idea that we're dying on the side of the road

two minutes away.

NARRATOR: On July 4, 2010, Cecilia Dettweiler

and her brother, Joe, left a family party to run an errand.

Joe lost control of the truck and slid off the road,

hitting a tree.

The impact left them alone and fighting for their lives.

My leg was so mangled and so intertwined

with the tree and the metal-- you know, bone sticking out.

I'm seeing my brother's ear detached from his head.

His breathing was really heavy, and hoarse, and ragged.

NARRATOR: Joe was unconscious and bleeding heavily.

The only thing Cecilia could do was pray.

CECILIA: I was praying, Lord, help me.

You're the only one who knows where I am.

You're the only one who could do anything about it.

So just help me through this.

And please, Lord, send somebody to find us.

NARRATOR: Minutes later, a man found them and called 911.

Soon after, Mike and Mary Dettweiler raced to the scene

and witnessed the rescue efforts to save their children.

MIKE: They were trying to tear them out of the vehicle

when Mary and I went up.

There was a state trooper there.

He would not let me go down there.

He said, it's too bad.

Don't go.

And if you take the front bumper and put it

at Cecilia's front legs, that's how far it got pushed back.

It's the worst.

It's absolutely the worst.

You just-- you know, the car was still smoking.

I don't know how anyone could have survived that.

I really don't.

MIKE: They finally got Joe out of the car.

And they threw him in a helicopter.

They let us see him first.

MARY: And when they took him out of the car,

I thought he was dead.

He was just lifeless, just lifeless.

MIKE: It was horrific.

It was-- we thought he was gone.

NARRATOR: Rescue crews worked for two hours

to get Cecilia from the truck and save her mangled leg.

Both kids were flown to St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Dr. Jose Pineda recalls Joe's condition.

DR. JOSE PINEDA: There was always a concern

that he may not survive.

CT scans and the way he looked, we

could tell that it was what we call a severe traumatic brain


And I would say in the spectrum of severe,

he was amongst the severe of the severe.

MIKE: Joe's brain pressure was really very high.

And they did not think he was going

to make it through the night.

And they prepared us for him not to make it that night.

By the time Cec got there, she was in worse shape than Joe.

She had almost bled to death.

They told us by the time she got to the hospital,

she had less blood in her than you're supposed

to have as a human being.

So she was minutes away from not making it.

MARY: The first day, walking and seeing your two kids side

by side in an ICU room is pretty horrible.

You're praying, just, just let them get out of the day.

Just give them another day.

Let me see them one more time, just to tell them I love them.

NARRATOR: Cecilia endured several surgeries

to save her legs.

Meanwhile, Joe remained in a coma but alive.

As days went by, Mike and Mary waited and prayed.

You're searching.

And you're praying.

And you're trying to find a way to get there.

And you're trying to hope that your prayers are heard.

Everybody was praying for us.

And we felt it.

We definitely felt it.

The faith of our friends and family, they just stepped up.

I saw them live their faith, because they

just stepped up and did things.

You know, it's one thing to say something.

It's another thing to just step up and help someone that's

that far down into the pit.

Cause boy, are you looking for an arm to come down.

You just don't know which way to turn.

NARRATOR: For weeks, Joe showed little sign of improvement,

while Cecilia endured painful physical therapy

and wondered if she would ever walk again.

CECILIA: Feeling like, you know, the life

I-- the wonderful life I had was just over and done with.

And this is what I had to deal with now.

MIKE: I remember her saying, you know, to me.

It was tough.

She said, Daddy, my life's over.

I just don't know what to do.

What am I going to do?

I said, honey, we're going to be with you.

We're going to work with you.

We're going to make the best of whatever comes.

NARRATOR: Then, almost two months after the accident,

Joe began to wake from his coma.

It was still unclear what his mental and verbal capacity

would be, until one night a priest

was praying in Joe's room.

MIKE: He's saying the prayers.

And he finishes up the glory be.

And Joe starts to whisper the end of the prayer with him.

The very first words he said were,

glory be to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

NARRATOR: Joe began a long recovery process,

both mentally and physically.

Both he and Cecilia have recovered

beyond anyone's expectations.

MIKE: Their recoveries were unbelievable.

In Joe's case, he's off the charts.

The doctors told my parents that I

think is actually true, is you know,

like, Joe will never be the same again if he survives.

And I'm not the same.

I think I feel like I'm definitely

better than I've ever been.

The expectation of what his recovery probably statistically

should have been and what he has achieved

is remarkable, to say the least.

NARRATOR: Joe says this experience

has confirmed his decision to pursue the priesthood.

The entire family is thankful God

walked with them in the darkest time of their lives.

I'm amazed.

You feel, you feel God's mercy is really what you feel.

Because I sure didn't deserve it.

Look how amazing, you know, of a recovery we had.

And we wouldn't have had it without the grace of God.

You know, I came to realize, we have a God who suffers,

who bleeds, who suffers with us, not just for us to save us,

save us from sin, save us get us to heaven.

He suffers with us, like as our brother, too.

So I find a lot of peace in that.

God is always with you.

Even when I can't see Him, even when

it feels like He's not there, it's

because He's carrying me through it.

No matter what doubts I might have sometimes and what

my experience is, like, I can never, ever

doubt that God loves me or that God hears my prayers

since that day.

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