I remember hearing on the news how, just past midday on 7 March 2015, emergency services in the US state of Utah had responded to a call made by three fishermen standing on a bridge over the Spanish Fork River, near the Colorado border. They reported that there was a partly submerged car upside down in the river.
On arrival at the scene four police officers and two firemen could hear a woman’s voice pleading ‘Help me! Help me!’ from inside the car. They had no idea at that stage who was in the vehicle but said that the voice was ‘distinct and as plain as day’ and it catapulted them into action. One of the officers stated that the voice ‘wasn’t something that was just in our heads’. In fact, it was so clear that one of them shouted in response, ‘We’re trying! We’re trying to get in there!’.
All six men went into the water and in their desperate attempt to save whoever was in the car, they lifted the vehicle on to its side and found a toddler, still alive, in the rear. The child had been above the level of the water. They cut her out and formed a human conveyor belt to pass her up the hill to safety.
The water was so cold that the rescue crew members could only stay in for short periods. Several officers had to be treated for hypothermia. Tragically, the other occupant of the vehicle, in the driver’s seat, had died. Lynn Jennifer Groesbeck had been returning home the previous night after visiting her parents when she hit a cement barrier on the bridge and careered into the river. One of the rescuers said the trauma was such that she did not survive the impact of the crash. He added that the voice, which they had all heard so clearly emanating from the car, had not been that of her daughter, Lily. Neither was it Lynn’s because, according to the autopsy, she had been dead for between 12 and 24 hours. Lily was critically ill but, miraculously, survived with no lasting ill-effects.
The officers at the scene were all experienced and highly trained men, and not given to making up stories. In their profession they rely on facts and figures and hard proof. None of them could explain how they could have heard the voice. One has stated that it ‘must have been the voice of an angel’. The Bible acknowledges the existence of angels and records visits by them to people on earth. Sometimes they are in a recognisable human form: for example, the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, or the angels who appeared to the shepherds at the Nativity and at the mouth of Jesus’ tomb at the Resurrection. They have also appeared to people in dreams, and in visions.
God gives every human being in creation a guardian angel to help, protect and guide us through our lives. There is a reference to them in Matthew 18:10: ‘See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.’
Was it the voice of an angel who called to the rescuers of baby Lily? It cannot be proved or disproved, but a quote from Saint Thomas Aquinas puts it beautifully: ‘To one who has Faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without Faith, no explanation is possible.’