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Accident Victim's Request Leads Sherriff to Question Beliefs

Richard Adair, “Traffic was stopped and I actually drove right up to the remains of this green Mercedes and it was on its side with the roof facing me as I pulled up.”

On August 4, 2013, Deputy Richard Adair of the Ralls County Sheriff’s Department in Missouri, responded to a head on collision caused by a drunk driver.

“It was obvious that this was a really bad accident and it wouldn't be surprising if it wasn’t fatal.”

Richard continued, “The girl, the driver, Katie, who all I could see was the top of her head and one hand that was sticking out.  And I actually held her hand and talked to her and tried to calm her.”

But none of his training or 30 years of experience prepared him for what came next.

“And she said she wanted to pray out loud.  And then I became mortified.”

Richard grew up going to church, but to him, prayer was just empty ritual to a far-away, uncaring god.

“I didn't know how to pray out loud,” said Richard. “ I knew the Our Father, I knew Hail Mary, I didn't know how to pray out loud.  That, for me personally, was mortifying.  And Curtis White, the gentleman there, I asked him, "Can you pray with her?"  And he has no problem, and he took her hand, and I made the excuse to go check the other driver in the other vehicle.”

It took fire crews two hours to safely cut Katie out of the tangled wreckage, and put her on a chopper to the nearest trauma unit.  Meanwhile, Richard couldn’t stop thinking about the young woman, in excruciating pain and holding on to life, who continued asking people to pray.  

“Katie never screamed.  She never cried out loud.  She never cursed.  She never was angry. All she did was pray out loud.  And I just couldn’t believe that as a 50-some-year-old man, how that young girl had that much faith in God and I didn't.”  

“That’s because over the past year Richard had been trying to come to terms with the disappointments and failures in his own life, and searching for meaning and purpose.

Richard said, “I wanted to go to church. I guess I was looking for something I was missing. I mean, what I was looking for, I don’t know.”

Later, Richard and his wife Debbie visited Katie and her family at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois.

“I looked at my wife and said, I can’t believe how happy everybody is.  It’s almost like we’re at a birthday party.  And her mother looked at me and said we could be planning a funeral right now, and Katie’s alive.  It’s because of God’s grace Katie is alive.”

Finally, Richard understood what he’d been struggling with.

“I was missing a relationship with God.  I had no relationship with God.”

Soon afterwards, Richard and Debbie went to a local church service.

“You know the first time I was there we were talking about God and Jesus and it just clicked, I don’t know how to explain it, I knew at that moment it was like someone opening your eyes for the first time.”

In the coming months, Richard started reading the Bible, and praying. As he did he came to understand and accept God’s love and forgiveness.  During that time he committed his life to Jesus Christ.

“I realized that I had to become right with God and correct things,” said Richard. “I had to let go of anger that I held against others and just let it go. It’s not for me to judge. It’s over, release that, let it go.”

As he grew in his relationship with God, the people he felt he needed to share his new faith with the most, were his children.

“I never even talked to my own children about God.  I mean, they went to parochial schools, they did all the sacraments that our religion had you do.
Things I failed to teach them.  And that was hard.  It's not easy going to your children, your grown children and saying, "Hey, I messed up.  I didn't know God.  I didn't know how to show you who God was."

As Richard lived out his faith, Debbie and his children also made a commitment to Jesus Christ.

“Here I am a 53-year-old man, who's 30 years as a cop and I'm filling up because it's emotional and it is,” said Richard. “It's hard to explain.  Sometimes it's hard to put into words. God used Katie that day in her suffering.”

And it’s all because of a young woman, a stranger, who had the faith to pray.

“It's a simple prayer it’s just talking to God, and having that relationship to be able to do that,” said Richard.

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