After being knocked off his motorcycle on a Californian motorway, Vincent was airlifted to a Christian hospital. His mother mobilised thousands to pray, and jumped on a flight from Wales to the USA. This is what happened next

Vince at Chula Vista Fire Department

When your laid-back, Californian daughter-in-law texts, "CALL ME NOW!" you know it’s not good news.

Janel and my son Vince live with their three children in an off-road community in Menifee, California. Menifee is flat city with wide horizons and motorcycles are popular. Vince has two main passions – playing guitar in church and riding his Harley Davidson.

On the day I received that text, Vince had been knocked off his motorcycle by a hit and run driver at 65 mph on the Interstate Freeway and had been airlifted to the Loma Linda Hospital Trauma Centre where he was in a coma.

A few years earlier my young grandson had been killed on his motorcycle in a freak accident on a deserted country road here in Wales, and the news sent my mind into a kind of freeze-frame; a mixture of then and now. I couldn’t make sense of the calendar and couldn’t raise anyone over the phone in that moment to sense-check my thinking, so was almost incoherent when I rang Trailfinders to book a flight.

For years I’d had a bookmark that said, "Prayer Changes Things", and I saw it now as clearly as if it was on the desk in front of me. I contacted everyone I knew who would pray; my church pastors, family and friends, and my work colleagues at Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity that cares for older people in housing and care homes. It cares for its staff, too. We know we are part of God’s family and different groups of us meet regularly for Bible reading and prayer over Zoom. Adding up our churches, friends and family and their churches, colleagues and their churches, I reckon around 3,000 people were praying.

Christian care

Vince underwent emergency treatment for traumatic brain injury, with a shunt inserted into his brain to drain the bleeding. He also had multiple fractures, including his eye socket, his cheek bone, his cervical bone, shoulder blade, ribs, wrists and the fingers on his right hand. Amazingly, none of his limbs were broken, and none of his organs were damaged.

The main concern was the damage to his brain, and how he would be when he emerged from unconsciousness. Janel and I were encouraged to sit alongside him and talk to one another as well as to him, to stimulate him and bring him back to us. A racing driver who’d had a crash years before told us that when he’d been unconscious and couldn’t open his eyes he could still hear and knew where people were sitting in his room: he just couldn’t respond.

The Loma Linda Hospital is world renowned (a trainee technician told me it would help his career to have the name on his CV). But the best thing is that it is openly Christian. The hospital's mission statement is, "to continue the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ," and its values are embedded in everything it does.

For weeks I lived in a river of prayer, in my soul and around me

On the glass wall outside Vince’s room in Critical Care was Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you…" It was like a comfort blanket to me. For weeks I lived in a river of prayer, in my soul and around me. Some staff prayed with us, including the chaplain in Critical Rehab who walks the corridor outside patients’ rooms softly playing guitar to let people know he’s there for them.

A divine encounter?

A server in the restaurant one day noticed my accent and asked why I was there. I told her about Vince and she responded, "Ma’am, are you a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ?"

"I most certainly am," I said.

She leaned forward and grasping my hand said, "right here and now you and I are Church. We will pray for your son." And she did, vigorously and loudly. It was a busy lunchtime but no one in the restaurant batted an eyelid – they just went on choosing food and finding places to sit. I’ve wondered since if she were an angel (Hebrews 13:2) because from that afternoon Vince became more responsive.


When he stopped thrashing, Vince began to speak, but only in the world he was inhabiting then. His brain seemed to reboot as he went from childhood in Wales to countries he’s lived in. His nurse recognised Mexican Spanish, but didn’t recognise Hong Kong Chinese and was worried about possible confusion. Then he began speaking to us, still with his eyes closed.

We played Christian music and he’d say, "That’s a great one!" He’s always had a droll sense of humour and at times he had us in stitches. When his speech therapist asked him one morning where he was, he replied, "in a breakfast bar," but Janel and I knew from his expression that he was jokingly saying, "definitely not in a breakfast bar!"

An intensive care nurse told us they don’t see many miracles in intensive care but, "looking at you Vince…"

We thank God for miracles. The first was that, as Vince lay unconscious on the Freeway, instead of being run over by vehicles that drive too close to each other, they all managed to stop and became a protective wall. The second was that his son Sammy, a paramedic, was on duty when the call came through, and had information that expedited the process. The third was the inner strength that God gave Vince throughout: his therapist said she’d never heard such a strong voice when he spoke through a tracheostomy without an occluding finger. An intensive care nurse told us they don’t see many miracles in intensive care but, "looking at you Vince…"

When Austin, the occupational therapist heading the discharge team told us that he could come home he pointed a finger upwards and said, "Only God."

Vince had been admitted on 13 March, and walked out, unaided, on April 22. A special blessing is that after surgery with screws that mended his fingers Vince is back playing guitar with the worship group in church. He says it’s still a bit painful, but he doesn’t mind because it reminds him of the miracle God did for him.