The Beauty And Marvel Of Self Sacrifice

    James and Kati left San Francisco to travel to Seattle for Thanksgiving. With the holiday over, they started home. There was to be a night at an expensive lodge on November 25, 2006. But they missed their turnoff from interstate 5 and, after checking a roadmap, decided to get off and travel a secondary road to their destination at Gold Beach. Oregon.
    With their daughters, four-year-old Penelope and seven-month-old Sabine, they drove for about a dozen miles. Then in what would prove to be a terrible mistake, they took a fork to the right and started down the road where they would soon be stranded. Because of the danger of that route, during winter there was a locked metal gate to keep people from going that way. † It was secured against traffic on November first. But a vandal had cut the lock and done away with the barrier!
    Thus four people came to be stranded in rugged territory. They couldn’t get a cell phone signal. All they could do was try to survive until either they could figure a way out of the remote area or search team could find them.
    Dwindling gasoline meant they could warm their car only occasionally. They found some wood to burn and then burned their car tires. When they exhausted their baby food and bottled water, they melted snow. Kati nursed the two girls. Stranded for more than a week now, James knew he had to do something. On Saturday, December 2, he started out on foot in the direction he and Kati believed the nearest help could be found. He walked for more than ten miles in the snow before dying of exposure and hypothermia.
    Searchers found and saved Kim’s wife and daughters on Monday, December fourth. Kim’s body was found face down in the snow two days later. There would be no fairy tale ending in the story. People around the world have grieved with the 35 year old man’s family.
    The story is a moving testimony of one man’s love for his family. In a world that headlines crime and abuse, terrorism and violence, indifference and turning away, love still exists. Great sacrifices are still made. Humans created in God’s very image are capable of imitating his own self-giving love.
    James Kim’s desperate attempt to save his wife and children is a testimony of one man’s love for his family. As one person put it, “I did it for you!”
    Our thanks go to Dr. Michael D. Stone for accurately reporting this story of love and sacrifice. You and I face problems every day. Jesus said, “Take no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34).
    It was January 13, 1982 when Air Florida prepared for takeoff out of National Airport in Washington, D.C. Snow had fallen and ice was forming on the streets. Air Florida #90 was tenth in the line for take off. While it had be de-iced a number of times new ice was again forming on the wings. The tower gave the signal that the runway was cleared for take off.
    At this same moment, I was just arriving home in Alexandria, Virginia, a city a few miles across the Potomac. I switched on a major TV channel and to my horror, Air Florida on take-off was heavily laden with ice. It never rose above a thousand feet and was in a stall posture all the way to crashing into a major bridge joining Washington and Virginia. The scene was horrific. The Potomac was heavily burdened with solid ice. The tail section still protruded out of the water. Hundreds had gather on both sides. Fireman, police, Sheriff, ambulances and even a helicopter was hovering over head. One by one, they were lowering the buoy on a cable and fishing survivors out of the icy depth. One man named Arland Williams, had passed the cable to a number of others.
    A stewardess, her uniform shredded, attempted to hold on to the buoy but after two attempts she just fell back in the water. The TV cameras showed her close-up. She was floating on her back, unconscious, submerged a few inches under the clear water. Being a former lifeguard, I was jumping up and down in the living room screaming, “Get her, get her, for God’s sake, somebody get her”. As if in answer to my prayer, Lenny Skutnik hit the freeing water, moving her quickly to the bank.
    Who was Lenny? Just an office worker in Washington. Just a “no-body” you would say. Two weeks later, in a full assembly of the Congress, President Ronald Reagan related the story in detail and asked Lenny to stand. With the Congress standing and applauding, the president, snapped his heals and gave Lenny a full salute. “No greater love can anyone show when a “nobody” lays down his life for a “somebody”.
    Heroes are made in the heart, not in the mind. They so forget themselves, while literally hundreds crowded the banks of the Potomac, Lenny hit the icy waters with a perfect dive. He later was interviewed by the press and was asked, “What motivated you to dive into that freezing river?”
    His answer was simple. “She was drowning!”

† Correction: Officials with the Bureau of Land Management initially reported that vandals had cut the lock off of the gate. By December 14, 2006 an internal investigation within the Bureau of Land Management revealed that staff that was sent out to lock the gate on November 1 where unable to confirm that they would not be locking anyone in the gated area and therefore allowed the gate to remain open. Source: The Oregonian – December 14, 2006


Share Button

Leave a Reply