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My Miracle Story – 20 Years Later

My Miracle Story...20 Years Later

Twenty years ago this month, in June 2003, an ordinary day turned into a life-altering experience for me. It was a Wednesday afternoon (this becomes important later in the story), and little did I know that the events that unfolded would greatly impact my life. This is my story of an accident that could have had a tragic ending but instead became a testament to miracles.

Headshot Graphic of Rodney Smith, blue shirt, dark background, RSP logo


This is me today, 20 years after the accident. A lot has changed from 29 to 49, but I am still thankful for the Lord’s blessings. 


The Accident

My dad and I were preparing a place for my house. There was a large poplar tree on a hill that posed a potential threat to the house if it ever fell. We had cut most of the tree and cleared the brush, but there remained a large log lying from the top to the bottom of the hill. It had been cut into stove-size pieces, and only the bottom of the cuts needed to be sawed through.

In an attempt to roll the log for further cutting, I pulled it towards me with a peavy. The 20-foot by 32-inch diameter log started to roll and caught the tip of my shoe. I tried to pull it out but it was stuck. It rolled me to the ground and stopped on my chest. I immediately lost consciousness due to a lack of oxygen. 

poplar log from Rodney's accident in June 2003. From My Miracle Story - 20 years later
poplar log from Rodney's accident in June 2003

Swift Action and Help Arrives

My dad was understandably panicked but the Lord blessed him with quick thinking. He jumped on the tractor and pushed the log as far as he could, relieving the pressure on my chest but shifting it to my hips. I would have quickly passed away if he had not removed the log from my chest. 

My homesite is just up the hill from my parents’ house where I was raised. Dad ran and told mom to call 911, then drove across the road to our neighbor, Tony. Tony was outside working with some of his farming equipment and drove over with his large machinery.

A Call for Help

After Dad told Mom, she panicked. She grabbed a cordless phone and ran to the top of the hill, desperately trying to think of whom to call for help. (She had been having some pain in her legs and difficulty walking but was able to move with adrenaline.) In my compromised position under the log with my feet pointed toward the top and my head toward the bottom of the hill, I managed to suggest some neighbors to contact. 

First responders, EMS, and the fire department soon arrived, creating a plan to lift the log without endangering me further. The log was nearly sawed in two at multiple places, and they feared it could snap and crush me upon lifting.

The fire department hosed down the dirt area (my footers had not yet been poured) so that a helicopter (WINGS) could land and fly me to Johnson City Medical Center.


Amidst the chaos and fear, a series of remarkable circumstances unfolded, proving that miracles were at play that day and God was mightily at work:

  1. The tree that needed removal was a poplar and not a heavier oak.
  2. The soft dirt on the bank provided some give, cushioning the impact and potentially saving me from more severe injuries.
  3. Dad’s quick action to push the log off my chest prevented me from suffocating.
  4. Our neighbor Tony’s availability and his machinery played a crucial role in lifting the log off me.
  5. Despite the cordless phones at my parents’ house malfunctioning at the time (and this was also 2003 technology, cell phones were not as widespread as in 2023 and the cell tower coverage was not as good as today), the one my mom grabbed worked perfectly and had an unexpectedly good reception from a distance.
  6. The power of prayer became evident as news of the accident spread via scanners and prayer chains. Many churches in the county were having Wednesday night prayer meetings when they received word, and countless people all across Avery County prayed for me during those services. Plumtree Presbyterian Church was having a prayer meeting upstairs in the back of the building. The secretary, Nina Vance, had gone downstairs for something and happened to hear the phone ring in the office. They, too, immediately stopped what they were doing to pray for me. 
  7. My cousin, Chris Calloway, was stopping traffic and asking people to pray for me.
  8. The first responders, EMS workers, and my family and neighbors were praying for me.  
  9. Despite blood vessels bursting in my eyes and blood trickling from my ears and nose due to the blood being squeezed from my feet up toward my head, I miraculously suffered no brain damage (TIA, stroke, etc.)
  10. The rush of blood upon lifting the log made it seem like blood was pouring from my legs, but it was merely scratches and the sensation of blood returning to my lower extremities. I later found out this is very dangerous (life-threatening) when blood is blocked off to a large section and then allowed to flow again. By the time the log was lifted, I had lost all feeling and movement in my legs and feet.
  11. I had no lung damage or harm to any internal organs. Not even a single broken bone.

Grateful for Divine Intervention

I cannot express enough gratitude for the Lord’s protection. The outcome could have been drastically different.

At the time, I was working as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Burke County, driving up and down “the mountain” (NC Hwy 181) every day. The local newspaper, The News Herald in Morganton, NC, published an article about the accident on Friday, August 29, 2003. I had hoped to post a link to the article but was unable to find it on The News Herald’s website. I retyped it for you to be able to read it here. 

Do You Believe in Miracles? Rodney Smith Does

By Kerri L. McFalls The News Herald

MORGANTON—The first day of school was more meaningful this year for Rodney Smith, a speech teacher at Oak Hill Elementary School.

In fact, life in general including the smaller things mean more to Smith since he believes a miracle occurred to keep him alive.

Smith nearly lost his life this past summer when a tree log rolled on top of him. His legs and chest were trapped under the 20-foot by 32-inch diameter log for at least 45 minutes, but Smith walked away with only a few scratches on his legs.

The tree rolled on top of Smith as he and his father were trying to remove their chain saw stuck in the tree.

Smith said instead of pushing the tree away from him, he pulled it toward him and it rolled on him.

The pressure from the tree sent all of the blood to Smith’s head causing the blood vessels under his skin and in his eyes to burst. “My shoulders are red, my eyes are glassy red and I had lots of blood come through my nose when the log rolled on me,” Smith said.

Emergency medical crews arrived, including a helicopter that flew him on an 11-minute trip to Johnson City Medical Center in Johnson City, Tenn. He was released the next day.

“The amazing part of it was there were no broken bones,” Smith said. “I had no brain damage, no lung damage, internal organs were fine, not even a broken bone or a cracked rib.”

The accident happened in Newland where the 29-year-old was clearing some land to build his home. Luckily for the teacher, the clearing for his house made a good place for the helicopter to land, he said.

The accident happened in mid-June and since then Smith has felt like a different person.

“It’s like you’re doing everything for the first time,” Smith said. “One very good thing that has come from this is my faith and how it has made me a good witness. I’ve never really been outgoing with my faith, but now I am. This was a blessing to me and to a lot of people. It helps you see God at work. Sometimes we get bogged down with the bad stuff.”

Smith believes prayer about the accident kept him safe.

“Some churches found out while Wednesday night services were still going on and stopped what they were doing to pray for me,” Smith said. “The EMS crews were praying for me. I was praying. My family was praying. One of my cousins [Chris] was stopping traffic close to my home asking people to pray for me.

“I know sometimes the answer to prayer is different from what my answer was. I guess there must be something that God still wants me to do before he takes me home.”

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From Rodney

I look forward to getting to know you in the weeks and months ahead as we journey together to plan your wedding day photography experience. I am here to capture your moments, one memory at a time. 

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