The events of 8 Sept, 1984 started as most any other
day. It was a Saturday. We owned a small home in Bennion, Utah.
It had an unfinished basement. They had been remodeling the offices
where I worked, and they were throwing out a lot of 2 x 4's that
I thought I could use to make walls for my unfinished basement.
My boss said I could have the wood, and could even use the old
orange company truck to haul it away. So after breakfast I borrowed
the old orange truck from work and decided to haul the lumber
home. I took my sons Gene, age 15, Nathan, age 10, David, age
7, and Aaron, age 6, with me. How little did we realize as we
started out hauling the wood that day that it would become one
of the most important and memorable days of our lives.
We had made several trips by lunch time. It was about
a six mile drive each way to haul a load. We just had one more
load to haul, but we decided to stop and eat lunch first before
we finished. I was anxious to get the last of the wood home, so
I could get started building the walls before the afternoon was
After we ate lunch, I loaded the boys back in the
truck to make the one last trip for the wood. The old orange truck
was sort of rickety. It ran well enough to do jobs like this,
but sometimes I had to nurse it along to keep it from quitting.
Each time we went for the wood we took the same route. It was
quite an easy shot from our house up 2700 west to I215 to
21st south and right to the office. But this trip became a trip
like no other that we had taken.
When we came to the stop light which is at 5400 south
on 2700 west, we were the first car to miss the traffic light.
Missing the light really frustrated me because I hate missing
red lights. They waste so much or your time. As we waited for
the traffic light to turn green again, I was very irritated because
it was taking so long. We were expecting that when the traffic
light changed, we would go straight ahead continuing along 2700
west just like we had on every other trip. We waited and waited,
but the traffic light did not change to green. The traffic started
to back up on both sides of the intersection. That is one of the
busiest intersections in Salt Lake City. Finally some of the cars
on the other side of the intersection opposite to us, started
to run the light. When the oncoming traffic permitted, they would
dart across. But I did not dare try it because the cars were comming
so fast down the hill into the intersection. Quite often the truck
stalled when we first started out. The guy behind me started honking,
trying to get me to run the traffic light and go on through. But
I was afraid the truck would stall in the intersection and we
would be hit. So I decided to turn right. I knew that I could
go east to 2200 west then left over to get on I215 and still
get where we were going.
I turned the truck right and started around the corner.
As we picked up speed going around the corner, the door of the
truck on my side flew open and I started to fall right out of
the door onto the street. I held on to the steering wheel and
used it to pull myself back up into the truck, but that swerved
the truck off the road to the right straight toward a big power
pole. I missed hitting the pole, but I honestly do not know how.
We were going right for it. When I got back up into the truck
and turned the truck back on to the road, I was amazed that I
had been able to control the truck and not hit the pole. I felt
a great sense of relief and gratitude that we had not been in
an accident and felt we surely had been protected that day.
When we got to the traffic light on 2200 west, we
again just barely missed the light. This was the traffic light
where we were to turn left to go up on to the freeway. Again I
remember feeling that I never have had much luck with red lights,
and missed it again. Impatient to get going, I was thinking over
and over in my mind what I would do with the wood and how I would
build the walls. As we waited for the light to change a very strong
impression came into my mind that I should go straight rather
than to turn left when the traffic light did change. I was quite
amazed at the impression and argued in my mind that I could not
get where we needed to go if I went straight. I had been down
that road many times and knew it did not go clear through. But
the impression persisted and was very clear and distinct, that
I should not turn but go straight ahead. I figured out in my mind
a way that I could weave up through the subdivisions and finally
get where we were going. When the traffic light changed, I followed
my impression and went straight ahead instead of turning left
and going up onto the freeway.
The road was quite familiar to me. I knew that past
the 711 store on the corner was an old barn that always
had hay for sale. There was a large ditch running along beside
the road which went past the old barn and then into a culvert
under a driveway. As we approached the old barn I noticed a man
running along the ditch back toward the 711 store. The speed
at which he was running was unusual, almost alarming. I knew something
must be wrong for someone that old to be running that fast up
a ditch bank. I also noticed that there were five or six other
people standing on the driveway and several others were darting
across the street in front of me going towards that driveway.
It was a big flat cement bridge type drive covering the ditch.
There was a man down in the ditch in the water clear up to his
shoulders. He had what looked like a long 2 X 4 and I could see
that he was poking it into the culvert under the driveway. All
those standing around were watching him intently.
I also noticed that there were two or three women
standing up the driveway towards the house and one woman was sitting
down like she had fallen down to a sitting position with her legs
sprawling. I could tell that she was crying hysterically. It was
then that I really realized that something was wrong. I surmised
from her hysteria and the man down in the ditch with the board
that a child must have fallen into the ditch and was swept into
the culvert. My natural reaction was to stop and help. But I had
just been told a few weeks before by a friend who is on the Highway
Patrol that you should never stop at an accident. He said you
normally cause more problems than you help. I decided to just
go on and let the authorities take care of the problem.
We had to proceed very slowly past the scene of the
accident because there were people coming out of their houses
from everywhere. They were just darting across the road in front
of me almost without looking. So our slow speed made it seem almost
like everything was moving in slow motion. There were men running
up and down the ditch in both directions. I assumed they were
looking for the child in the water. I wanted so bad to stop and
help but I decided that there were already enough people there
we would just be in the way. I proceeded on down the road.
A hundred thoughts started to run through my mind
from my past. I remembered what I had felt like one time when
my own daughter Leah was a baby. We were at a friend's home having
a party in his back yard, with some other college students. We
were just standing on the back lawn visiting and one of the students
came up to me and handed me my two year old soaking wet baby.
She said she had found Leah floating face down in the ditch at
the back of the yard. I did not even know there was a ditch in
the yard. I was just sick to think what might have happened if
she had not found her. With that memory surging through my mind,
I could imagine how that mother on the driveway must have felt.
I said a little prayer and asked the Lord if He would send someone
to save her baby like He had saved mine.
I also remembered a time when we first started going
to the Sports Haven Health Club to let the kids swim. Aaron was
just a little guy, about two, just able to walk. Our whole family
was in the pool area and most of them were in the hot tub. I was
talking to an old friend with my back to the pool and hot tub.
I had a strong impression to turn around and talk. As I talked,
facing the hot tub and pool, I saw Aaron fall into the pool, but
no one over there was watching. He just laid there face down in
the water and did not move. I ran as fast as I could around the
pool and swooped him up out of the water. When his head came up
out of the water, he took a big gasp of air and started to cry.
I cried as long as he did just to think how close he came to drowning.
Again, with gratitude in my heart for the impressions that had
saved the life of my little boy, I said a prayer for that mother
on the driveway and asked the Lord if He would help them someway
save the baby as He had helped me save Aaron.
We continued on down the road away from the scene
of the accident. As I rode along in the old truck, looking over
at my own kids, I was crying. I kept thinking a baby was dying
and I couldn't do anything to help. I kept thinking about Aaron
and Leah and all the other many, many times our children had been
spared. I kept praying that the Lord would send someone to help
those parents like He had helped us so many times when our children
had been spared. My eyes were filled with tears. I could hardly
see the road.
Well, hundreds of thoughts can go through your mind
in just a few seconds when you are in a situation like that. I
thought of the time when our oldest son Gene was just two or three
and he had slipped out of the house during Sunday dinner and had
walked down the middle of the busy main street in town. I remembered
how a stranger had brought him to our door and asked if he was
our boy. He said he found him two and one half blocks away. Our
family knew every person in town and no one sitting at the dinner
table knew this man. How did he know where we lived? My wife Janice
took Gene from him and was so shocked he had gotten away from
us she did not think to ask who he was. Then she turned back to
call to him and he was gone. We have always felt that it was the
Lord's intervention that saved Gene's life. Again as that thought
went through my mind I asked the Lord if he could send someone
like that to help save the baby.
The memory came into my mind of the time when our
daughter Anna first learned to ride her bike and she went over
the curb across the lawn and right into the basement of a split
level house. No one saw her do it. The lady who owned the house
said she did not see what happened, she had just heard the glass
break and when she came out our Anna was standing in front of
the window crying. Anna's bike had gone right through the window
and down inside the house. Anna did not know how she got off the
bike. When it went through the window, she just ended up standing
in the flower bed in front of the window. We were so grateful
for the unseen hand that protected her.
On and on my mind went, remembering all the times
that we had been protected. I am sure the whole thought process
was not more than one or two minutes. I just know I was very sad
as I kept looking over at my own children sitting in the seat
beside me and knowing how sad I would be if it was one of them
that was in the ditch.
We drove on down the road about one more block. Then
I heard a voice that came into my mind and said, "Cordell,
look over here in this open field". It was very clear in
my mind. I looked. Then the voice said, "See those fence
poles leaning against that fence?" I said, "Yes".
Then continuing, the voice said, "See that old carpet over
that old pile of machinery?" I said, "Yes". Then
I heard the words in my mind, "Remember when you were young
and you used to help your dad water the hay, and do you remember
how you put the canvas with a pole in the top of it, across the
ditch and it would block the water off and make it all run out
into the hay field instead of on down the ditch?" I said,
"Yes, I remember." Then I heard the voice clearly say,
"Cordell, if you will take those poles and that carpet, you
can build a dam like that and save the baby's life."
Just as those impressions came into my mind, the
entrance into the big open field where the carpet was came up
on the road. I swerved into the open dirt field and cut a big
U-turn in front of the machinery and backed up to it.
I told the little boys to stay in the truck. Gene
and Nathan jumped out with me and we started loading the carpet
and poles into the back of the empty truck. Aaron and David did
not stay in the truck as I had asked them, but they were not in
Just as we finished loading the poles and carpet
I heard the siren of what I assumed to be the ambulance. I then
thought to myself that there was no need to go now because the
paramedics would save the baby. But immediately as I thought that,
the strong impression came into my mind that they could not save
the baby and that I was to go back anyway.
In a panic I told the boys to get back in the truck.
But the two little guys were having a hard time climbing up into
the seat. Aaron had gotten in but David was still struggling to
get in so I picked him up and in my haste literally threw him
in the open truck door onto the seat. But I threw him too high
and he hit his head on the top of the door opening. It cracked
very hard. I was so sad that I had done that. I had been in such
a rush to go back and help save the baby that I had now hurt my
own boy. I was sure that he would have a bad cut and maybe even
a concussion. He hit very hard. I said in my mind to the Lord,
"I am sorry but I have hurt David now so I can't go. He is
more important to me than the baby. I will have to take him to
the doctor and get help for him. He was screaming in pain. Again
the impression came into my mind that he was okay and that we
were to go back to save the baby. We all piled in the truck and
off we went.
Speeding out of the field, I looked in my rear view
mirror and saw what appeared to be the farmer who owned the field
chasing after us. I suppose he thought we were stealing his carpet
and fence posts. He was running and shaking his fists in the air
at us. But I did not feel we could take time to stop and explain
to him what we were doing so we just sped on out of the field
and back up onto the road.
When I turned the truck onto the road going back
towards the scene of the accident, I could see that there was
now a police car about one half block from where the driveway
was. He had pulled his car across the road angle wise and set
up a road block. He was out in front of his car holding his hand
up and had stopped about 5 cars. He would not let them go by.
I said a little prayer and asked the Lord what to do. The impression
came to just go around him. I turned into the wrong side of the
street and started up past all the cars. I was sure he would stop
us and make me explain why I was trying to go past his road block.
As we approached him, he did not even turn to look at us. He just
continued to look at the cars he had stopped. It was as if he
could not see us. So I just sped right past him and drove on up
the road to where the driveway and culvert were.
There were now scores of people standing all around
on the ditch bank. The man with the 2 X 4 was still down in the
ditch poking the board up under the culvert. There was now also
a paramedic sitting down in the water beside him. The water was
too deep to see the opening of the culvert but the man was poking
the board in and out of what appeared to be the opening. The mother
of the child was still over on the driveway crying and lots of
people were trying to console her.
I told David and Aaron to stay in the truck this
time. By now David had quit crying because of all the police cars
and ambulances and excitement. Gene and Nathan jumped out of the
truck to help me. We dragged the carpet and poles over across
the street and built our carpet dam. I asked Gene to stand down
in the water on the carpet and hold the carpet onto the poles
because we did not have time to put dirt around it to hold it
in place. He did as I asked.
I paid no attention to Nathan or where he went. I
just turned and went up to the culvert opening to see what we
could do to help. As the water flooded out of the ditch in front
of our dam, the water level at the culvert immediately started
to drop. As soon as it was down where you could see into the opening,
the man with the 2 X 4 looked in and started to cry hysterically
and shout over and over "She is in there, she is in there".
He was so hysterical two policemen took him by the arms and lifted
him up out of the ditch and they disappeared behind the crowd
standing all around the ditch bank. I learned later that he was
the father of the baby.
I looked at the paramedic who was standing there
in the water with me and he just moved aside. I was just amazed
that he would move over and let me look in. As I sat down into
the water so I could get a look into the culvert, I had to get
down to where my face was almost in the water to look in the little
light opening at the top of the culvert. I too could see a little
bump up inside the culvert that looked like cloth in the water.
The opening was only about the size of a football
and I could not tell how big the culvert opening was under the
water. It did not look like it was big enough for a man to go
in or I would have gone in after the baby myself. Then the impression
came into my mind that I could send my ten year old son Nathan
in. He was small enough to fit.
I looked around but I could not see him anywhere.
He told me later that he did not know why we were there and he
was having great fun looking at all the shiny guns on the policemen
and was jumping back and forth across the ditch. But when I called
out to him, he immediately jumped down into the water beside me.
I put my face down by the opening of the culvert
and Nathan got down and looked in too, without my even having
to ask him. I asked him if he could see the little bump up there
in the light. He said that he could. Then I told him it was the
baby and asked him if he would dare crawl into the culvert and
see if he could get hold of the baby and bring it back out. With
no hesitation he went right into the culvert. The opening in the
water was so small that his head completely blocked off all the
light and I could not see him or the light any more, just water.
Nathan only went in about a foot then he scrambled
back out. He was crying and fell into my arms. He was trembling
and he said that he was too scared to go in. So I got down in
the water right up to the opening again and motioned for him to
come look again. I said to him, "Nathan, that little bump
in there is a baby. If you don't go in to get her she will die."
Before I could say any more he lurched back into the opening and
disappeared into the water.
I was very afraid to have him go in where I could
not see him. I could not even see his head for the water, so I
grabbed hold of his ankles to pull him back out if he got too
far into the culvert and could not come back out alone. The paramedic
also grabbed hold of him to help me. We let him go in, and in,
and in, to what seemed like a mile. I was almost to the end of
my reach on his ankles when he stopped. Then I heard his little
voice cry out, "I got the baby, dad".
I panicked and just started pulling him out by his
ankles and legs, then his hips, then finally his chest and shoulders.
When his head came out of the culvert, I could see that his face
had been thrust down into the water the whole time we were pulling
him out, by the force of our pulling him back out so fast. I was
sure we had also drowned him. I quickly put my hand under his
chest and lifted him up out of the water. When his face cleared
the water he took a big gasp for air. Then one of the most glorious
sights I have ever beheld appeared. As he stood up and his arms
came up out of the water and I could see his hand, it was filled
with beautiful blond hair. He was holding the baby by her hair.
I quickly grabbed the baby and turned her upside down so the water
would start running out of her lungs. She was just as blue as
blue could be.
I handed the baby, upside down, to the paramedic
who was standing beside me. Everyone on the ditch bank started
to cheer and clap their hands. I just held Nathan in my arms and
we cried together for joy. The baby had been saved. I was also
very grateful that Nathan had not drowned as well.
The crowed followed the paramedics over by the ambulance
to watch as they tried to revive her. We went over to watch, too.
I kept hearing the one paramedic say, "No pulse, no pulse,
no pulse." The other one was giving the baby mouth-to-mouth
I stood there and watched. I was so disappointed.
She was dead. It was all for nothing. I kept asking the Lord over
and over, "Why? Why? Why? Why did you send us all this way,
and now she is dead? Why did you break the traffic light so we
would come this way and now she is dead anyway? Why did you tell
me to go straight instead of turning up onto the freeway and now
she is dead anyway?" I kept hearing the paramedic say, "No
pulse, no pulse". The baby was so blue she almost did not
look real contrasted against her beautiful blond hair. I continued
to pray for her and asked the Lord, "Why did you show me
how to make the dam, and now she is dead anyway?"
It was then that the same voice came back into my
mind and said to me, "Give her a blessing and command her
to live". I was shocked. I looked around. There were at least
one hundred people now standing around. How could I give her a
blessing? I did not know the family. What would all these people
think if I raised my arm to the square and commanded her to live?
But the voice in my mind cut me off and said to me, "You
do not need to touch her or raise your arm to the square to give
her a blessing, just say the words in your mind."
I followed my impression and in my mind I commanded
her in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the priesthood
I held, to live. The very second that I said those words, I heard
the paramedic say, "I've got a pulse. I've got a pulse."
I could see the pink color start to flow back into her face and
in just a few seconds she was not blue anymore. They quickly put
her and her mother into the ambulance and hurried away.
The crowd now started to disperse. My sons and I
went over to gather up the poles and carpet. The carpet was very
heavy now that it was wet. But we managed to drag it back across
the street and get it and the poles into the truck. I was just
amazed that Aaron and David were still in the truck. I had forgotten
all about them. I was very relieved that they had obeyed me and
had not gotten out of the truck.
We drove back to the field to return the carpet and
when we pulled into the field, here came the farmer again running
toward us. I guess he thought we had now come back to steal the
machinery too. He was very angry and red faced when he piled over
the white wooden fence and confronted me. But when I told him
what we had done and when he saw the wet carpet he just laughed
about his thinking we were stealing his things. He then helped
us unload the wet carpet and put it back over the machinery.
I turned the truck back up onto the road and started
toward the office to get the rest of the wood, but my life would
never be the same again. As I drove along the road I was filled
with amazement that the Lord would love a little girl and her
family so much that he would make a traffic light quit working
to send us on a different route. My heart was so filled with gratitude
that the Lord had helped us know what to do to save the baby's
life. But more than that, I was so humbled to think that the Lord
knew my name and had sent me and my boys to be the ministering
angels to save the life of the baby.