Many people would never be able to imagine themselves in such a situation. In fact, it seems like it came out of a movie. But, as Joy Veron saw her children jump into her car and the car begin to roll downhill towards a steep cliff face which led to an extremely deep valley, she realized that this was no movie, and that she needed to take action – fast.
A hike in the woods
Joy Verone and her family were hiking in the woods of Colorado for a family vacation. It was her, her mother, father, husband, and her three small children named Annie, Elliott, and Chloe. They were having a great time on the trails, when the family decided to pack up their SUV and head out. The kids, being kids, decided to run ahead to the family’s SUV. But then, disaster struck.
A mother’s worst nightmare
The three children, Annie, Elliott, and Chloe Verone, were inside the SUV when all of a sudden the doors closed and the vehicle began to move. The car was parked on a hill, and the wheels started rolling down. The children were trapped. Helpless. And what’s worse, the car was gaining a whole lot of speed, and was heading straight for the cliff edge of an extremely deep canyon.
Heading towards the cliff
All Joy could do in that moment was watch. She said in an interview on the Oprah Winfrey show that she was rooted to her spot, and all she could see in the window of the SUV were the six terrified, bulging eyes of her dear children who in that moment were hurtling towards their death off the face of the cliff and into the canyon.
Wouldn’t be able to go on
Joy, her parents, and her husband ran as fast as they physically could after the SUV to stop it from hurtling over the edge with their children inside of it. As the entire family was running, Joy says that she remembers thinking to herself that she would not be able to go on without her kids. That gave her extra energy to try and save them.
Taking a turn
Joy was able to somehow get in front of the car. She says that she remembers thinking that she had to form some sort of a barrier between herself and the quickly approaching cliff face. Therefore, she went to the front of the car and tried to stop the fast moving, insanely heavy vehicle with her body alone. But that was the moment when this already horrible situation took a turn for the worse.
As Joy ran to try and physically stop the car with her body, the massive motor vehicle threw her to the ground. To make matters worse, the SUV actually ran over her body. Joy said that it seemed like everything was happening in slow motion – getting pulled underneath the car, and getting rolled over. She also recalls thinking about how she did not make it to her children in time, and that she would hear a crash when the car fell into the canyon.
Being stuck underneath the vehicle as the wheels crushed her, Joy vividly recalls feeling her back and every single bone in her spine get crushed under the SUV’s weight. She was unable to move and was barely breathing, just hoping beyond hope that at least her children would somehow, miraculously be rescued safe and sound. However, in the end, it turns out that she needn’t have worried about that at all.
The SUV running over Joy was perhaps the best thing that could have happened, as her body provided enough of a barrier that the car was able to slow down, enabling Joy’s father to be able to reach the driver’s side door, open it, and stop the car by slamming his hand on the brake. The car stopped moving just mere feet away from the cliff’s edge, ensuring that Joy’s three children were safe, and that they would be able to live another day.
Clinging to life
While her kids were alive and safe, their mother was not. Barely alive and breathing, the children ran over to see the one who was responsible for both bringing them into the world, as well as keeping them in it. They felt a sense of relief at the fact that their lives were saved and that they were going to be ok, but then realized that because of them, their mother was laying on the ground, completely broken, and potentially going to die.
Joy remembers lying on the ground, completely unable to speak and barely able to breathe, while being in the most pain she had ever been in her life. Her father and her husband were by her side as well, and she says that she had an internal conversation. She heard a voice saying that if you want to say goodbye to everyone, then this is your chance, and you will die. But if you want to live, you need to fight. She chose to fight.
The worst news
She eventually regained consciousness and woke up in a hospital bed. However, when she woke up, the doctors only had more bad news to give her. It turned out that she had completely destroyed her spine, and that she would have a less than one percent chance of ever being able to walk again in her life. She was understandably devastated.
A child’s guilt
Joy’s children were devastated. They knew that had they never decided to run up ahead and jump into the SUV, it would have never started to roll, and they would not have broken their mother. They felt so bad that they went to her and apologized for completely breaking her. But Joy had the doctors build her body braces. And yet, Joy made sure to let her children know that they did not break her. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
Despite the fact that her back was completely broken in multiple places, Joy’s spirit was completely intact and even stronger in spite of the terrible ordeal which she had gone through. She is able to do anything a normal person can do because she has put it in her mind that she must succeed for her children. And it is rubbing off, as her children view her as both their hero for saving their lives, as well as their role model due to her strength.
Growing up strong
A little over a decade later, Oprah decided to follow up on Joy and her family, and it turns out a lot has changed for the family of five. Growing up, they always had their mother to look up to, and with the combination of both her strength and wisdom, Joy’s children seem to have become strong examples of leaders in their community.
A trip to Europe
In an effort to find a way to get better, Joy searched near and far for a cure of any sort which could have even the slightest chance of helping her regain the ability to walk again. She flew all the way to the European country of Portugal in order to be get a stem cell surgery to try and repair her back. Now she has a bit of the feeling in her legs.
Never going to walk
However, despite everything – flying to Europe, the treatments, the hope, all was dashed when she realized that she would never regain the full use of her legs ever again. It was a heartbreaking moment not only for her, but for her family as well. However, she understood that the she had no choice but to accept the hand she had been dealt, carry on, and persevere.
The second decision
One of the reasons why Joy has such a good attitude about the entire ordeal is because she decided that she would have a good attitude. She says that she recalls hearing her children playing outside one day, and feeling depressed that she was stuck laying in her bed. It was there and then that she decided that she would try her hardest to overcome her injury.
A split in the family
Due to Joy’s never ending surgeries and medical problems, her husband ended up divorcing her several years after the accident. Joy accepts that she should have been more attuned to what her husband was going through, and that they should have perhaps done some couples’ counseling early on. She understands that she did not pay enough attention to her husband’s needs during this difficult time. In fact, Joy was told that over 95% of marriages don’t survive when the woman is injured.
The children grew up strong
Despite all of this, Joy has been able to raise three very strong, independent, productive children. In fact, one of her children, Chloe, is a recent graduate from Harvard. Her second daughter, Annie, is an undergraduate student at the University of the South, which is located in Sewanee, TN. Her youngest child and only son Elliott is currently a student at Texas A&M, and he says that he draws strength from her whenever he is having a bad day.
Stronger than ever
And this strength has certainly paid off. According to Facebook photos, it seems as if Joy has re-married, or at the very least in a new and committed relationship. Additionally, it seems that Chloe has since graduated from Harvard, and is now studying law at Emory in Atlanta Georgia. This family has undoubtedly drawn much of its strength and success from their hero of a mother and the power of spirit which she has within herself.