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Officer Recalls How Angel's Voice Helped Him Save a Baby's Life - and Then His Own Faith


Today, in both my work and my faith, I’m continually nourished by the miracle that happened to me that day.

Family of Jennifer Grosebeck

I’m writing this under the same bridge where a year ago this week a young mother, Jennifer Lynn Groesbeck, lost her life when her car ran off the road and plunged into the frigid river — and where I witnessed a miracle.

The car landed upside down, half-crushed and half buried in the Spanish Fork River in Utah.

Sitting on these rocks, it brings me back to jumping in the cold water where three of my fellow police officers and I discovered Jennifer, who had obviously died on impact before we arrived, about 14 hours prior.

Upside down, crushed and halfway in the water, the car wouldn't easily reveal any more clues about additional passengers.

Spanish Fork Police Department, Body Camera

That's when we heard a voice from inside the car, a voice that told us to hurry, because there wasn’t much time: "Help," the voice called. "I need help."

Hearing that energized us to move quicker.

Officer Jared Warner called back, "We're helping. We're coming."

After a couple-minute struggle, we managed to push the car on its side where we could finally pry open a door.

Spanish Fork Police Department, Body Camera

Unknowingly, though, and to my horror, by pushing the car on its side, we had submerged Jennifer's baby, 18-month-old Lily Groesbeck, into the water — something she had managed to escape until then. Lily had survived in the backseat that dark night, strapped in her car seat, hanging upside down, just a few inches above the rushing, 45-degree water.

A firefighter who was working with us by then, climbed on top of the vehicle and down into the pried-open door. He cut the toddler's limp and hypothermic body loose from her car seat and pulled her from water.

He quickly handed her to me, and I handed her to an another officer who rushed her up the rocky river bank to a waiting ambulance. The officer gently held her face down and patted her on the back and encouraging her to breathe all the way.

Emergency officials administered CPR all the way to hospital and at least 15 minutes in the emergency room after they arrived, until Lily finally fluttered her eyelids.

Today, she is a happy and healthy 2.5-year-old.

But what about the woman's voice, encouraging us to hurry?

No one else was in the car; no one else was in the river. All four of us officers heard it. It's what made us work with more urgency.

Spanish Fork Police Department, Body Camera

That day a year ago, changed my ideas about death and life, forever.

It’s an eerie feeling, returning to a spot you’ve talked so much about. With the recent release of "Proof of Angels," the book I wrote with Ptolemy Tompkins about the events that unfolded that day and those leading up to them, I feel more and more attached to this place — this ordinary bridge by this ordinary little river.

That might sound strange, given that a 25-year-old, young woman lost her life here. To tell you the truth, it does to me, too. But the fact is, what happened here, deeply tragic as it was, gave me a gift I can never forget, or stop being thankful for, something solid that can not be budged, no matter how hard the daily currents of life might sometimes try to dislodge it.

[sharequote align="center"]What happened that day gave me my faith back.[/sharequote]

What happened that day gave me my faith back, a faith that I had held with an easy, casual confidence when I was younger, but that 10 years of police work had gradually grinded away.

Being a police officer was a dream I held since I was a kid, playing cops and robbers with the other kids in the neighborhood not to far from here where I grew up. It wasn’t a job I fell into, but one that I jumped into the minute I was old enough. And I loved it, not for the feeling of authority it gave me, not because it let me boss people around, not for any of the hundred negative reasons you often hear cited these days when people talk about the terrible things some cops have done. A small number of bad apples have been such a large part of the news in recent months.

Tyler Beddoes, YouTube

I dreamed of being an officer because I wanted to be a force for good. But in the couple of years that led up to what happened here at the bridge, I’d gone from being deeply proud of my job to being (almost) embarrassed by it. People didn’t look at me the way they had when I started. More and more, I didn’t see trust in their eyes, but suspicion. It was a situation I’d never have dreamed could have been possible when I entered the force in 2006, when I was just 21.

Losing faith in yourself, in what you do each day ... that seems to go hand in hand with losing faith in God. When what you do doesn’t matter, then the larger world, and the God who made it, doesn't seem to matter either. The two go together like donuts and coffee.

Hearing the voice that spoke from that upturned car – a voice that, by the rules of common sense, simply could not have happened – turned my world upside-down. Over the course of working on the book with Ptolemy, as I told him story after story of how I’d come to lose my faith in God and my faith in the value of my vocation as an officer, I found myself remembering the reasons I’d joined the force in the beginning. The miracle that happened that day shook the puzzle-pieces of my life loose, and let me start putting them together again, this time into a much brighter, and more complete picture.

I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but I’m not saying you need to be a Christian to be a good cop. Fact is, by the rulebook, I’m probably not that good of a Mormon anyhow. Like my dad, also a believer, I’m not in church as often as I or some folks would like me to be.

But I am, nonetheless, a deep believer. Not just in God, but in myself, and the work I do now. Once again, I’ve become a person who believes in the deep value of my job. I try, every day, to be a great cop, a person who helps people, who helps uphold not just the law, but the dignity of the people I’m entrusted to serve.

Family of Jennifer Grosebeck

Today, in both my work and my faith, I’m continually nourished by the miracle that happened to me that day. Not once, in the dozens of times that I’ve told the story of the miraculous voice that spoke to us four officers from inside that car as we worked to turn it upright, have I forgotten that this miracle was born from deep tragedy. A young woman lost her life at this spot, and while I’ve met and become friends with many of Jenny’s friends and relatives since that event, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that I never met Jenny herself in life.

I wish I could have met her. And maybe someday I will. And when I do, I'll thank her for helping us save Baby Lily, but also thank her for saving me.

To read more about this miracle and the existence of those helping us from beyond, pick up "Proof of Angels," by Ptolemy Tompkins and Tyler Beddoes.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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