High Country's miracle man
For 69-year-old chiropractor Walter Holloway, the holidays are brighter than ever.
"This will be a special one, that's for sure," he laughed.
Like George Bailey ("It's a Wonderful Life"), his whole life flashed before his eyes, but it wasn't thanks to a bridge intervention. It was thanks to an icy curve on Westview Drive near U.S. 321. And, just like Bailey, he believes angels were watching out for him that cold December morning.
"I remember just sliding down the hill and winding up in a tree," Holloway said.
And he means that literally. A single tree was the only thing protecting his SUV from plummeting down the hillside near the Cliff Dweller Inn.
"It's a miracle," he said. "That's what it's been called, so I'll call it that too."
For 17 years, Holloway has lived at that house on Westview, and, while he's seen his fair share of weather, his fall two Sundays ago was a first.
"I was afraid to even call my wife," he said. "I had my cell phone on, but I was afraid she would be so scared that it would hurt her more than me."
The tree did more than save his vehicle. It obscured it, adding another dangerous element to an already harrowing ordeal.
"I thought nobody could see me," he said. "And I couldn't have gotten out."
But someone did see him. Nine-year-old passenger Adam Patterson of Jamestown alerted his dad, who called 911. It was that phone call that, according to Blowing Rock Fire Marshal Aaron Miller, may have saved Holloway's life.
"If you looked up, it was easy to see, but most people don't look up," Miller said. "I drove down through there myself responding to the call and didn't see (the SUV) until someone told me where it was at."
On scene, Miller could see what a miracle it truly was.
"My first thought was how lucky he was that those trees caught him there, but it was still precariously perched at the top of the cliff," Miller said.
After securing the vehicle with cables and wenches, crews waited on Hampton's Body Shop's aerial truck before securing Holloway to a harness and completing the rescue.
"We had to work pretty quickly," Miller said.
"The fire department put a ladder up on that embankment and took me out the side of the window," Holloway said. "The window broke out, so I was taken out through the side."
And, while he went to the hospital as a precaution, he didn't even have a scratch.
Holloway, a lifelong Baptist, knows God was watching out for him "and every day, not just because you have a crisis," he said.
His advice to those trekking out on icy roads? "Pray a lot," he said.
And he knows God will listen.
"Miracles," he said. "That's the word I'll leave with you. Angels and miracles."
As for the 9-year-old?
"I sure would like to meet him and say thanks," Holloway said. "You never know when you are going to be the hero."