HOLMBERG: Whats the difference between an accident and a tragedy?

Posted at 12:31 AM, Jul 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-23 00:42:10-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Rush hour, a little past 4 p.m. on Monday. Monument Avenue at Strawberry Street.

A Toyota Prius slams into an eastbound pickup truck, which in turn runs off Monument onto the sidewalk, mowing down an antique light pole and then scraping to a stop against a historic wall on what is likely Richmond's most famous avenue.

It is an avenue of pedestrians, dog walkers, joggers and cyclists. A bad place of out-of-control vehicles.

In this case, the pickup truck missed, by inches, a young man standing behind the rear of his car parked at the corner.

It surely would've crushed him, likely to death, said the driver of the pickup, Rifle Schutte, an associate pastor at Harvest Renewal Church, a mile away in the Fan. He was on his way to help staff a healing room at the church, which sits amidst the campus at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The driver of the Prius was in tears. But imagine how she would've felt if those inches weren't there and the pedestrian was crushed.

"She's not hurt, I'm not hurt," Pastor Schutte said, pointing to the spot where the young man was standing. "There's someone who could've been dead. Nobody got hurt. You may put it down to fate or coincidence. I don't. I just believe in miracles. To me, this is a miracle. That's God's hand . . . "

The owner of the house where the wall was hit and two women who were walking in the block yesterday recalled a similar incident on that very corner a year ago. A young woman had to dodge a crashing car that struck a tree beside her, missing her by inches. The tree bears the scars from that near miss in June of last year.

Roughly 800 people die in Virginia crashes each year.  Pastor Schutte says he knows why the young man his truck narrowly missed won't be among them.

He gave thanks at the scene yesterday as he comforted the young woman who hit his truck. It took her a while to stop crying.