By Cecily Markland
Saturday, February 8, had been a “perfect day” for Laura and Gilberto Laparra, members of the Boulder Creek Ward in the Boulder Creek Stake.
The Laparras, who have three girls at home and one serving n LDS mission in Lubbock, Texas, had spent their morning with their daughters, working in the house and yard. By late afternoon, Laura and Gilberto were heading to the Gilbert Temple Open House, to complete their assignment as volunteer tour guides.
A perfect day…until, moments after parking across from the temple, just as Laura and Gilberto were stepping off the curb into the crosswalk, two cars collided, causing one to spin out of control.
“All of the sudden, one of the cars hit us, ripped her away from me and forced me in the opposite direction.”
To his horror, he soon discovered that Laura was under one of the cars.
“Never in my life had I had such a feeling of worry and sadness,” Brother Laparra says. “I was so desperate.”
Two men came to his aid and they managed to lift and push the car away.
“There was so much blood,” and Laura was not responsive. When a man tried to move Gilberto away, he realized, “I needed to be calm if I was going to be able to stay with her,” he says. “I tried to get myself under control, and I asked everyone to step aside so I could give Laura a blessing.”
By then, paramedics had arrived. They placed Laura in one ambulance, and, concerned about the pain in Gil’s back, they placed him in another.
“They took her away and my heart feared the worst,” he says. “My mind was overwhelmed, thinking that I had lost her and my entire being was filled with inexplicable pain.”
Friends began arriving at the hospital. “They helped comfort me and gave me a blessing,” Gil says.
Finally, after being released to go to Laura’s side, “Doctors told me it was 50-50 that she would make it. Said we needed some ‘good luck’ and said things like ‘If’ she survives…”
Laura’s skull had been shattered “like a windshield” they said. Doctors were fairly certain she would be deaf, have permanent paralysis in her face and that she may never be able to eat, talk or walk again.
“I have always had faith in my Savior, but I prayed and prayed that I would have the faith I needed, especially if it was her time to go,” Gil says.
Countless other prayers were offered. Family members prayed as did hundreds of Facebook friends, friends from his native country of Guatemala and hers of Chile, from their years in the Easter Pageant and from when Brother Laparra was branch president of a Spanish-speaking branch in Mesa, as well as 12,000 new friends participating with their daughter in the Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration.
Laura was kept in a medically induced coma at first, to allow the swelling in her brain to subside. Eight days after the accident, she said Gilberto’s name for the first time, and after a month in the hospital, went home.
“Some beautiful experiences happened in the ICU. I believe the spirit was there. I believe my Savior was there,” Gilberto says.
Laura can hear, walk without limping, and—other than the day of the accident the time spent in a coma—her memory is good. She still has some paralysis in her face and wears a neck brace while a broken vertebrae heals, but the Laparras say, “It’s truly miraculous.”
“Angels were here,” says Laura. “I was always protected, always taken care of.”
They both say the accident brought their family closer together and increased their faith.
Gilberto points to three specific miracles. First, he says, it brought him great strength to hear his missionary daughter share her faith that “everything is going to be okay.” Second, “Laura’s recovery is a miracle and we are so grateful.” Third, he has been amazed at the “brotherhood of the Saints” and the ways in which people have reached out to serve and show their love.
“It’s amazing how close heaven is and how surrounded we are by angels, and by Christ himself,” Laura adds.
For more about the Laparras’ experience or for how to contribute, visit http://www.lauralaparra.blogspot.com/