‘It was a miracle’
Early one morning in April 2009, Major Robbin J. Eckhart, assistant to the food services director at Territorial Headquarters, was injured when her car collided with a sanitation truck in front of the headquarters building.
Eckhart, 46, was on her way to work. However, glare from a golden sunrise belied the approaching disaster as she commenced a left turn onto the parking lot ramp. Emerging from the blinding haze, the 32–ton truck struck Eckhart’s car. The truck rolled over the car’s hood and cab. It continued on, finally coming to rest 700 feet down the road. The truck driver escaped injury, but emergency workers had to use the “Jaws of Life,” hydraulic cutting and spreading tools, to pry open the collapsed car. They eventually freed Eckhart. She recalls, “They said I should have been dead.”
Paramedics then rushed Eckhart by ambulance to Nyack Hospital. “I remember Major Joan Brewer was on the scene. And I said to her, ‘please don’t leave me!’” Brewer, who also witnessed the accident, rode with Eckhart. She phoned Eckhart’s husband, Major Bruce Eckhart. An auditor, he was en route to an assignment.
“To avoid getting me too upset, Joan told me to just turn around and meet them at the hospital,” recalls Bruce.
Doctors put Robbin on morphine and treated her for broken tibia and fibula bones and internal injuries. “At that point, everyone wondered if she’d even survive,” said Bruce.
The accident, which delayed traffic for several hours, was an uncanny reminder of the tragedy that took Robbin’s brother’s life just six years earlier. In 2003, Major Terry McKay, 50, of Norwalk, Ohio, was promoted to Glory when he was struck by a truck that was towing a 15–foot construction trailer. Ironically, he was returning a library book entitled In His Presence, by Charles Stanley. Police found the book near his body. Said Robbin, “So, my mother had already lost one child. She didn’t want to lose me too.”
Eckhart recalls her survival as “a miracle that day.” But her two–week treatment at the Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Center was slow and painful. “I couldn’t put any weight on my leg.” The multiple breaks required setting and surgery. “I had a plate screwed in with pins. I was not able to walk for four months.”
“I had to exercise at home,” said Eckhart, who remembers how The Salvation Army provided her with a first–floor walk–in apartment at the College for Officer Training.
Bruce felt overwhelmed. “Taking on all the household chores as well as helping her in and out of the wheelchair, cars, and up and down ramps was a challenge,” he remembers.
But gradually, she began to see substantial improvement. “The doctors were amazed that there was no limp in my leg. I told them that I have angels watching over me!”
Many people prayed for her recovery. “From the accident, to the surgery, to the rehab,” she said. “And when I got back home, my husband, family, friends, and Salvationists helped and supported me. I thank God for them. Yes, the Army does ‘the most good!’”
Today, Eckhart walks, has moved back into her multistoried residence, and has gained the power to predict the weather. “I know when it’s going to rain,” she says. “Because I get arthritis in my knee.” Her ordeal has also resulted in changes in traffic laws on West Nyack Road. “There’s a traffic light at the intersection. They put it there because of me,” she said.
“Miracles still happen,” said Eckhart. “Put your trust in the Lord, because He will renew your strength!”
by Warren L. Maye