On Tuesday, May 18, my husband and I were driving from Pittsburgh to Asheville, N.C., and had cause to pass through Beckley on Route 19 to Route 77. As I merged onto the highway into the right lane, we were passed by a tractor-trailer which was in the fast (left) lane. The truck passed very closely and took some of my driver’s side fender, wheel and my driver’s side mirror with him. My driver’s side front wheel was bent and the tire was completely shredded.

I put on my hazard lights and dialed 911. I was on the phone with the dispatcher when a tap on the driver’s side window alerted me to a good Samaritan who had parked his truck behind us so we wouldn’t be hit from behind. He said his name was Johnny and he was an ordained minister. The 911 operator asked where we were on the highway. I didn’t know which mile marker we were in. Johnny took my phone and spoke with the operator and gave the information needed in order to report the mishap to the state police. He came back to my window and gave us both ice cold bottles of a soft drink and said that he would keep the traffic behind us at bay until the police arrived.

Already, the beginning of an astonishing spiritual, humanitarian experience.

In less than five minutes – yes, five minutes – both Johnny and a West Virginia state trooper were inspecting the damage to our car. Once Johnny left, the trooper stayed fixed behind us, taking Johnny’s place protecting us from oncoming traffic in both lanes. In less than what seemed like just a few minutes, a tow truck arrived whose driver joined the trooper in assessing the damage. The trooper told us that we could still drive the car if we got the wheel fixed.

The tow truck driver told us that he could take us to a garage that could fix the tire. We agreed and went in the cab of the tow truck whilst he wrestled our car onto the bed of the truck. One half hour had yet to pass at this point.

We arrived at the garage, the owner checked the damage and said that we just needed a new tire and quoted a reasonable price. I have to admit that I thought that we might be ripped off as we had no choice. We agreed. The garage owner then told us that our wheel was bent and he wasn’t sure he could fix it but that he would try. This is what he did: took the driver’s side front wheel off, fixed the wheel successfully, took the driver’s side back wheel off and switched it with the front wheel. Mounted the tire onto the now driver’s front tire and put the formerly bent wheel in the back; balanced all tires; and popped the bottom of the left side bumper back on, which had become dislodged. He did this all for the cost of the tire we had agreed upon earlier. The missing driver’s side mirror made it somewhat difficult to maneuver between lanes, but I was able to navigate without any problems albeit carefully.

We were in that garage less than an hour and we were on our way to the Biltmore.

Please give your patronage to C. Adam Toney Discount Tires on Harper Road. Honest and efficient. Hauling Reorganization III LLC, DBA Glen’s T&C Towing and Road Service, LLC.

Also, a huge thank you to West Virginia State Police, Troop 7, Parkway Authority, and especially to Sgt. J.L. Burdette.

You all apparently know what kind of citizens live in Beckley – kind, generous, honest, caring, helpful, giving, pleasant, honorable, forthright. Did I mention honest and kind? Not only one or two people, but each and every person we encountered that day.

Thank you all for help when we needed it. May God send blessings to all of you and bring you health, wealth, love and happiness.

Almost Heaven, West Virginia. Heaven is Beckley, West Virginia!

Constance Larimer

Wexford, Pa.

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