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‘Miracle’ saves NC pastor after fallen tree impales his pickup on dark mountain road

This is the scene that greeted Doug Simonet as he was driving to Charlotte early Tuesday, through the Nantahala Gorge near Andrews, North Carolina.
This is the scene that greeted Doug Simonet as he was driving to Charlotte early Tuesday, through the Nantahala Gorge near Andrews, North Carolina. Douglas Simonet, photo

The pastor of a church in Cherokee, North Carolina, says he has all the proof he needs of miracles, after surviving a crash that saw a tree shoot straight through his pickup truck on Tuesday in Nantahala Gorge.

Photos of the early morning crash show Pastor Foreman Bradley’s pickup with a tree going through his front windshield and sticking 8 to 10 feet out the back window. He sat just inches away as it shot through the cab in the dark.

“Jesus is alive and that’s the only reason I’m alive today,” Pastor Foreman Bradley told the Charlotte Observer Friday.

Another view of what Doug Simonet saw Tuesday morning in Nantahala Gorge, near Andrews. Photo Doug Simonet

Photos of the crash, taken by witness Douglas Simonet, have been shared more than 5,400 times since his wife, Heather, posted them on Facebook Tuesday morning. Reactions have ranged from disbelief that the driver survived to suggestions the image was fake.

Bradley, who works at Harrison Construction, told the Charlotte Observer he got suspicious something was wrong after seeing brush on the side of the road. “Two seconds” later, his truck hit the tree, he said.

“I saw what looked like a tree limb, but then I went unconscious. The next thing I know a gentleman was checking on me. So I had no time to think before I hit the tree, but had a lot of thinking after,” he told the Observer. “It’s good to have Jesus in my heart because during the moments that tree tore through the cab of the truck, Jesus was the only one there.”

His church, Yellow Hill Baptist Church in Cherokee, posted on Facebook that Bradley suffered “several lacerations to his head and scratches to his left eye” and is expected to make a full recovery.

Bradley’s daughter, Jessica, posted Tuesday on Facebook that her father “is a true walking miracle... God had his hands around my dad today.”

Witness Douglas Simonet told the Observer he was driving to Charlotte from Murphy at 6:15 am. Tuesday, when he spotted the crash about 10 miles from Andrews.

“There was a fallen tree that was lying over guard rail into his lane,” Simonet said in an email. “He struck the tree. The tree went threw (sic) his truck and slid him around facing the way he was coming...I had no idea if there was anyone in passenger side or not, so I quickly pulled over and ran to the truck.”

Bradley was out of the truck and was shivering from the cold as he sat against the guard rail, said Simonet, who retrieved a coat to keep the pastor warm.

“He had to hold rags on his head where something cut his scalp open,” said Simonet. “Definitely a miracle in my eyes.”

B.D. Thompson of the Washington State Patrol demonstrates the "Kid-A-Pult," which shows how kids without seat belts can be injured in a car wreck. In Washington, the minimum fine for not securing a child in a car seat is $475.

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