Car crash in Honduras: A near-death experience

All the windows of the car were shattered except for the window that was next to the
family’s 8-year-old son. (Photos courtesy of: Sierra Ureta and Tristan Deschamps)
All the windows of the car were shattered except for the window that was next to the family’s 8-year-old son. (Photos courtesy of: Sierra Ureta and Tristan Deschamps)

When Tristan Deschamps, senior computer information systems major, and Sierra Ureta,  senior public relations major,  began their drive to a popular Honduras beach last summer, they had no idea they would encounter a life-changing experience. 

Ureta had traveled to Honduras as a student missionary to work as a public relations intern at  VIDA Internacional Mission and an art teacher at the Campos Blancos Educational Center, a school that doubled as an orphanage. She worked in 2022 from June to the beginning of August. Deschamps worked at the same school from January to July as an algebra instructor. 

Ureta told the Accent that in the middle of the summer, the students and teachers were given a break from school. She had been spontaneously invited to go to the beach with a missionary family and two of her friends, one being Deschamps. As they drove off at around 8 in the morning,  there was a carefree atmosphere inside the car, described Ureta.

“It was me and the two boys in the back,” she said. “And we were just on our phones watching videos and just trying to pass time while we’re driving to the beach, which we [were] really excited about.” 

However, the peace and contentment would not last long. 

Deschamps recounted the moment he felt something was wrong. 

“We went on this three-hour car ride to get there. … And I felt a very strong urge to look up before anything happened. Like, I’d say five seconds before anything happened, I felt a pull on my face, and I looked up.”

As he lifted his eyes, he caught the moment when the mother of the family swerved to avoid a truck coming straight at them, five miles per hour over the highway speed limit, according to Deschamps. In the effort to avoid the vehicle in front of them, the mother ended up hitting a car on their left.  

“And as we went to the left, we hit the car on the side,” Deschamps said. “And the centrifugal force is like pushing me against the back of the car because we turned 180 degrees. … We end up facing against the flow of traffic. And then, we start flipping.” 

The car containing the five members of the family and the three friends rolled three times down an incline by the side of the highway. According to both Ureta and Deschamps, no one in the car was wearing a seatbelt. 

Tristan Deschamps standing with Sierra Ureta. (Photos courtesy of: Sierra Ureta and Tristan Deschamps)

 Ureta compared the moment to what people see in the movies when cars crash.

“[Glass is] just flying  in front of your face. I didn’t think it was really happening,” she said while emotionally describing the incident. “And then, and then I heard Tristan say, ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die.’ And that’s when I was kind of in shock. 

“We rolled three times. And then I thought I was going to die,” Ureta continued. “I was like, ‘I came here to serve God, and now I’m gonna die.’ We landed on the left side, which is the side that I was on. None of us had seatbelts.”

Once the car landed, everyone was able to make it out safely, Ureta and Deschamps said. Though the group was in shock from the crash, no one had any major injuries despite a few bruises caused by the intensity of the rolls. Deschamps said all the windows of the car were shattered except for the window that was next to the family’s 8-year-old son. 

 “Every window exploded,” said Deschamps “And this is another little sign of God’s hand on us. Here’s an 8-year-old in the car, … and he hit the window. It was the only window that didn’t break. It was a miracle that he didn’t get ejected.”

After the initial shock, the group decided to continue on their way to the beach and stayed in a hotel where they reflected on the crash. Deschamps and Ureta both said they were grateful to God for His protective hand. 

Ureta described the moment she saw herself in the mirror for the first time after the crash. 

“I walked into the bathroom, and I looked at myself,” she said. “… I had blood on some of my clothes, and I had shards of glass in my hair and dirt. 

 “And just, I don’t know,” she paused. “ I never felt so thankful to God for my life than in that moment. I literally saw God saving me.” 

When asked what he took away from the experience, Deschamps said that God wants those in pain and in happiness to reach out to Him. 

“Often people reach out to God when they’re in a terrible place,” he said.” But I’d say when you’re in a neutral place, or even a good place, God will take you even further up. And that’s what people should look towards.” 

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