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Nov26WedThe mining accident should have killed Tracy Whitmore. Instead, it gave him new life. November 26, 2014 by Diane Stark
In a mine 2,400 feet underground, Tracy Whitmore's life hung in the balance. He'd gone to work, just like any other day, and was walking down a mine ramp when, out of nowhere, an out-of-control truck slid down the ramp and hit him, pinning his body against a wall and nearly cutting him in half.
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- Faith & Friends
Airlifted to a hospital in Winnipeg with multiple, life-threatening injuries, Tracy's family should have been planning his funeral.
Instead, they started praying.
No Time for Church
Tracy was born in Snow Lake, Man., just south of Thompson. As a child, his parents came from two different churches. His mother took him to a Catholic church while his father and sister attended a Protestant one.
But that changed when Tracy was nine years old. “A Christian fellowship group came to town, and my parents decided to try it out,” he says. “Soon, our whole family began attending church together.”
Tracy enjoyed church as a child, as well as the mobile Christian camp that visited each summer.
As an adult, Tracy found a job as a miner. In 2005, he met his wife, Danetta, and began attending her Salvation Army church in Thompson. “Danetta and I were married there in 2006 and I became an official member of The Salvation Army in 2007,” Tracy says.
The couple had two children, and Tracy found himself working more and more hours to support his family. “I started working 11-hour shifts, seven days a week,” Tracy laments, “and before long, I found I didn't have time to go to church.”
But that all changed on the morning of July 3, 2013.
"The truck shattered my pelvis," Tracy relates, “tore the arteries going to my heart and my diaphragm, and collapsed both of my lungs. I was basically drowning in my own blood.”
Tracy woke up in a hospital in Winnipeg three days later. “I don't remember a lot of the accident, but while I was unconscious, I saw a lot of images and a wall of light,” he recalls. “I knew I had to tear down the wall if I ever wanted to see my family again. So I fought for my family.”
During those three days, Tracy underwent multiple operations to repair his damaged organs. He spent a month in the intensive care unit at the hospital in Winnipeg and two more months at the one in Thompson.
“That month in Winnipeg was really tough,” he says. “Danetta and my mother-in-law, Evelyn, were there with me every day, and our children were at home in Thompson with my brother-in-law, Ken, and my father-in-law, Everett. I know it was so hard on Danetta to be away from our children, but she is such a strong woman.”
Tracy also had a lot of support from his church family. “While we were in the hospital in Winnipeg, my pastor, Major Betty-Lou Topping, called every day to see how I was doing. She even sent someone from a Winnipeg Salvation Army church to visit me,” Tracy says.
“When I was stable enough to be shipped back to Thompson, my church family came to the hospital every single day. They literally brought the church service to me! I had a lot of days when my spirits were down, but my church family was always there to lift me back up. Their support is helping me through this.
“When I read the list of all of my injuries, I still can't believe I survived,” Tracy smiles. “The doctors said it was a miracle, and I know I have God to thank. He guided the doctors' hands and I am only here because of His healing.”
“A Kick in the Pants”
Many people would doubt their faith after going through such a traumatic event, but not Tracy. “As soon as I woke up, I thanked God,” he says. He was also very concerned about the driver of the truck that hit him, a good friend of Tracy's and a fellow member of The Salvation Army in Thompson. “It wasn't his fault, but he went through a lot, too, because he thought he killed me,” Tracy explains. “I was more worried about him than I was about myself.”
Tracy is now starting to walk again. “I know I've got a lot of physical therapy ahead of me, but I know I won't go through it alone,” he says.
Tracy is hoping to return to work someday, but he won't allow his priorities to become mixed up again. “God used the accident as a wake-up call that I needed to slow down,” Tracy believes. “Working seven days a week left me with no time to go to church. God gave me a kick in the pants, and I've learned that the extra money wasn't worth it. I'm not the same person I was before the accident. Now, God and family are the most important things.
(Photo: Ian Graham)