Thursday, Jan. 3 is the 23rd anniversary of the day that Linda Vermillion and Midlothian’s Al Watson will never forget. On Jan. 3, 1990 their lives miraculously crossed paths, forming a bond between them spanning 23 years.
Linda was headed south on Loop 12 near Irving with her then 4-year-old son, Andrew Vermillion, in his car seat behind her.
“I remember feeling really sick, and I’d had problems with low blood sugar before,” Linda said. “All I remember after that is reaching for a bite of nachos.”
Al had just missed his exit on his way to get a part for his car. Both agree what happened next was truly God intervening in both their lives. Suddenly a vehicle swerved, out of control, right in front of Al before crashing into a utility pole.
Linda had passed out and crossed the left lane, the median and three lanes of oncoming traffic, passing right in front of Al before wedging her car between the utility pole, a tree and chain-link fence.
Al pulled off to the side of the road and rushed to Linda’s vehicle.
“I would say it was probably the most traumatic thing I’ve gone through,” Al said.
While other drivers got Andrew, unscathed, out of the backseat, Al checked on Linda’s pulse and cleared the food from her mouth. Although he had only practiced on a dummy in a CPR class at Texas Power & Light, where he had worked, Al knew what to do.
Al said his wife, Deanna Watson, a nurse for Midlothian ISD had insisted on him learning CPR, because sometime he would need to know the lifesaving technique that could bring someone back from death.
As Al started CPR, he realized her airway was still blocked and cleared out the remains of nachos from her throat. Linda soon coughed up the rest of the nachos and slowly regained consciousness.
“I woke up feeling peaceful,” Linda said. “I remember the person being a real comfort and thought it was a paramedic.”
It wasn’t until later that Linda learned the whole story of what had happened and how Al’s quick actions and knowledge had saved her life.
“God intervened and put me in exactly the right spot, I had just been trained and I was ready and willing to do what was necessary,” Al said. “I know it would have ended differently had I not been there. They thought she was already dead. You never assume that.”
Al said in the months leading up to the accident he had thought about his first aid and CPR training, and he had a desire to put his training to use to save someone’s life.
What could have been the end to a miraculous story became so much more for Linda and Al – a bond to last a lifetime.
Both were in need of a sign from God and in need of someone to fill a void in their lives. What started as a friendship quickly became more like a bond between siblings.
“It was always from a heart perspective,” Linda said. “God showed me his love. I’d had doubt in my heart about his love, but that day he showed me that he had my life in his hands. It helped overcome depression and fear.”
Linda lost her brother three months after the accident and believes God sent Al to help fill that void in her life. Meanwhile, Al was in grief over the troubles in his daughter’s life and did not have a close relationship with her.
“I really consider her to be my sister,” Al said. “I kind of filled the void after her older brother died and our relationship evolved into a closeness of family more than friends.”
That day Al was wondering as he drove if God really did intervene in people’s lives and if he could resolve the issues in his daughter’s life. In the year’s following the accident, God did intervene to solve those issues and restore the relationship between Al and his daughter.
“I’ve always believed and have a relationship with God,” he said. “But that day I knew for certain that God intervenes for good in people’s lives. Where and when he does it I can’t say, but Linda and I are proof of God’s intervention.”
Both were and still are happily married and both Linda’s husband, Barry Vermillion, and Al’s wife, Deanna, are supportive of their friendship.
Through the years Al and Linda have communicated through phone calls, email, Facebook and the occasional visit. Since Linda now lives in East Texas and Al in West Texas, the two do not get to see each other face to face much.
“It seems like in the last couple of years we’ve grown even closer,” Linda said. “As the anniversary comes back around I think both of us realize more every year how our lives have been blessed.”
She has noticed a coincidence of threes. Three months after the accident her brother passed away and Al was there to console Linda and help fill the void. Then three years later, on Jan. 3, 1993, the third anniversary of the accident, Linda gave birth to her third child, Luke Vermillion.
“A lot of things have happened in my life to make me believe that God wanted me to stay here,” Linda said, believing that the symbols of threes in her life are signs from God to remind her.
The story continues for the Vermillion family as Luke and his wife enjoyed the birth of the first grandson, Lathon Vermillion, on Dec. 3, 2012 – another three in the story Linda pointed out.
She believes that little Lathon is a lifesaver himself, delaying Luke’s deployment to Afghanistan because his wife was expecting.
For both Al and Linda, the story will continue to go on as they share in experiencing life as each of their families grow and nurture the bond that God set in motion that fateful day.
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