God spares family in crash
Missouri Baptist pastor, wife, children miraculously survive
LAURIE – Marc Knapp was pinned behind the wheel of his full-sized extended cab truck, helpless in the wake of a horrific accident on Highway 5 that for all he knew at the time could have been deadly.
His wife was shouting that their five-year-old daughter was dead. Their other daughter’s left leg was pinned under the seat. Their older son, who was seated behind the driver, avoided being crushed “by the grace of God and an absolute miracle,” according to his father.
The driver of a full-sized pickup had fallen asleep on the evening of Nov. 25 about a mile away from Gravois Mills. He kept on drifting left, causing Knapp to keep on bearing right until there was nowhere to go.
“He hit us head on, and made a pretty big mess of the truck, and a pretty big mess of my family,” said Knapp, pastor of First Baptist Church, Laurie.
The accident was so severe that it resulted in various members of the family of six being transported to three different hospitals. The pastor had a shattered left hip, a pelvis that was broken in three places, a fractured right foot and several broken or dislocated toes. Worse yet, he was flown to University Hospital in Columbia not knowing whether his younger daughter, Meliza, had survived. Meliza had been in the front seat, and the impact from the air bag had knocked her unconscious, tucked up in a ball.
“I didn’t know she was alive until I was ready to go into my first surgery,” Knapp said. “I got to the hospital Saturday night, and they had to drill a hole in my knee and put a pin in to put me in traction. Then I didn’t have surgery until I believe it was Monday. Right before I went into that surgery, my Mom was in there and I asked her if Meliza was alive and she told me she was.”
His older daughter, Marcail, was flown to the same hospital with a broken left leg and dislocated hip. His older son, M. Joseph, was flown to a hospital in Springfield with lacerations on his head, and his wife, Annette, and their other son, Matthew, along with Meliza, went to Lake Regional Hosptial in Osage Beach. Annette Knapp suffered injuries to a couple of fingers along with her left cheekbone, and Matthew Knapp was treated for bumps and bruises.
“Praise the Lord we all walked away alive,” said the 37-year-old pastor. “It’s just a miracle.”
Four months after the accident, Knapp is still in the midst of his recovery. His doctors and physical therapists tell him it might be another year before he regains full health. His progress has been swift so far; his going from being totally laid up in a hospital bed, to a wheelchair to walking with a walker has been a powerful testimony to one of his physical therapists, who calls it the closest thing to a miracle she has ever seen.
“She told me, ‘Pelvic fracture people don’t recover like this. There’s some intervention going on, and I believe it’s divine intervention,’” Knapp said. “God is really showing people that He’s real.”
Rusk Rehabilitation Center on the campus of the University of Missouri has been the focal point of Knapp’s recovery.
“I was non-weight-bearing for at least three months,” he said. “It was almost four months where I put no weight on my legs. They showed me how to go from bed to wheelchair or from bed to portable potty chair using a slide board without using any of my legs.”
On Feb. 4, he began to preach again from a wheelchair. One month later he was able to position himself near the pulpit by means of a walker. Due to the demands of his physical therapy, he often must stay at Rusk before getting a ride to church. The flock has grown through this, he said.
“We know that God works for the good in all things for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose,” Knapp said. “He has taken that which was seemingly disastrous and used it for His glory, used it to move people into a closer, more intimate personal relationship with Him, and used it really to increase the faith of First Baptist Church of Laurie.”
Knapp got to meet the driver of the other vehicle recently in a courtroom. The two men met at the door and shook hands.
“He just began to weep and to tell me how sorry he was, it was just an accident and he was fully responsible,” Knapp said. “He wanted to know if there was anything that he could do, and I just looked at him, held his hand and said, ‘God loves you, and you’re forgiven. We don’t hold any hard feelings against you.’”
Knapp, who has been serving as pastor of First Laurie since June of 2005, has learned a lot about his wife during their family’s season of suffering.
“Through all this she’s really been able to show forth the strength that God has given to her,” he said.
Right before he told The Pathway the story of the crash that happened so stunningly on Thanksgiving weekend after a visit with family in Trenton, Knapp paused to give glory to God.
“God is good,” he said. “Thanks be to God that He loves us, He has mercy on us, He watches over us, and just keeps us protected like we need to be.”