“Could He Run Again?” Ensign, July 1996, 64–65
All his life our son Russ wanted to be in law enforcement. In April 1980 he finally graduated from the police academy and joined the King County police force headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Although we were happy for him, we feared that one day we might receive a phone call telling us he had been hurt or killed.
I was somewhat comforted, however, when Russ promised me he’d do all he could to protect himself from harm. Among other measures, this included wearing his policeman’s protective vest as well as striving to be worthy of any protective influence the Lord might bless him with.
The dreaded call came at 3:18 one November morning. Russ had made a routine traffic stop, and as he climbed out of his car, a drunk driver came fishtailing around the bend and hit both him and the patrol car, throwing him 40 feet across the road.
We drove quickly to the hospital and learned the extent of his injuries. As the only priesthood holder available at that critical time, I asked the emergency room personnel if I could give my son a blessing before they took him into surgery. A beautiful spirit entered, and absolute silence fell upon the roomful of teary-eyed people. An officer standing nearby put his arm around me and said, “I wish my father could do that for me.”
After surgery the doctor said he had been amazed to find no serious internal injuries. Russ was encouraged to find that only his head, arms, and legs had sustained serious damage. Doctors were hopeful they could begin skin grafting in about two weeks. In the meantime, Church members from Russ’s ward began arriving at the hospital and two elders administered to him.
Russ began healing so well that skin grafts were started four days after the accident. Much to the doctors’ surprise, all the skin grafts were successful, and we were able to take our son home after only 10 days.
Once Russ was home, the nerve damage in his left leg caused the foot to drop down, and it could not be raised up. Two months later, surgery could not repair the extensive damage, and Russ was told he would never regain normal use of his foot. He was fitted with a metal brace that made it possible for him to walk. However, in order to return to the work he loved, he had to be able to run.
Russ determined that no matter what the doctors had told him, he would learn to run again. He was later fitted with a plastic brace that allowed more movement, and he began exercising his leg. When one Saturday I asked him how he felt and when he thought he could start running, he said, “Let’s go!” We went outside and started running. We did not run far, and we did not run fast, but we ran.
I cannot describe the joy or the emotion I felt in those few moments! I wanted to put my arms around Russ and cry. Eleven months after the accident Russ returned to the police work he loved. Seeing how the Lord has blessed and healed our son has strengthened our testimony and our appreciation of the power of the priesthood.