Angels come into our lives

  • Jennifer Field and Tom Vanderbilt. PHOTO BY ANNIE CARD

Published: 10/24/2016 5:54:09 PM

I have a new angel in my life. I was so grateful when I received an email from Tom Vanderbilt, the Dublin Fire Chief recently. Tom wrote to me saying that he’d just read my book.

“Incredible! Can’t wait for the Hallmark Movie… Bill would have been honored…he was profoundly affected by your accident…”

Tom asked if we could meet sometime, “I’ll buy you a really good cup of coffee.” Last week we met at the Dublin Fire Station.

I had learned from his email that Tom was best friends with Bill Beynon, the man who saved my life. Tom was away in Vermont on November 17, 1992 tending to business. He heard everything on his CB radio. He knew it was bad.

Twenty-four years ago, I was a senior at the Dublin School, just months away from graduation. I left school early to go home and change my clothes. I wanted to look my best for my boyfriend, who was coming over later to pick me up. My mother had just left for the weekend. We’d have the house to ourselves.

As I turned onto route 101, I noticed the frozen rain bouncing off my windshield. That might be the last thing I remember before the sound of metal on metal, after my car slid on black ice into an oncoming tractor-trailer.

When Bill arrived on scene, the police officer told him the Jaws of Life was on the way. Bill knew there wasn’t time to wait, and he somehow managed to rip my door open with his bare hands. He repositioned by head so I could breath again.

After my accident, Bill and I spoke on the phone many times. I could never stop saying, “Thank you for saving my life Bill! Thank you! You are my guardian angel.”

He would always reply very humbly, “I was just doing my job Jen, following the ABC’s, as we say in the fire department.”

Although I’m told that Bill and I did meet, I don’t remember it. With my traumatic brain injury, there is more than a year that is simply a blank.

When I learned that Bill had died last December I was heartbroken, and couldn’t stop crying. I felt a piece of me was gone. Bill had written a sidebar for my book, and I was so excited to present him with the first copy, and to thank him again.

As I toured the fire station with Tom, he told me how much my accident had affected Bill. Immediately after my accident, Bill led the campaign to get the Jaws of Life for Dublin. As Tom showed me the fire and rescue trucks, and state of the art rescue gear, I felt that we weren’t alone. I am sure Bill was with us.

When we left the station, Tom drove me to the site of my accident. He told me that Bill drove a snowplow for many years, and was yelled at for using too much salt on that section. Standing his ground, he said, “I want that road black.” Hearing these stories from Tom has brought me closer to Bill again.

Tom is so proud of his fire department. I think the firefighters’ ability to put out any kind of fire, or rescue someone from a car accident, is not what you think you might find in a small town fire department. I feel lucky, that because of my accident, new information and new equipment was acquired to save lives. I am so grateful to the Dublin Fire Department, and to all of our first responders.

I miss Bill, especially when I talk about him to others and remember how kind and generous he was. We had a connection that will never be lost.

Thank you Tom Vanderbilt for reconnecting me to Bill, and showing me that Bill will always be watching over us.

Jennifer Field is the author of “From Blue Ribbon to Code Blue.” She is speaking at the Hancock Library, Thursday at 7 p.m.


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