The last time Alena Spichak saw Joe Ader, he was kicking in the windshield of her SUV, precariously perched along the banks of the frigid Spokane River. Within a few minutes, Joe pulled Alena, who was 36 weeks pregnant, out of the car and up to a rock on the nearby hillside where they waited for help. Now, two years later, the strangers have reunited, bonding over the day Joe saved Alena’s life.
“I’m so thankful Joe risked his life to go down and get me. God saved me. Because Joe was there and for me to be alive, it was a miracle,” said Alena Spichak.
On March 14th, 2020, Alena was on her way to her doctor’s office for a routine prenatal checkup. The road was icy that morning, and somehow, she lost control and slid off Upriver Drive, rolling her SUV three times. Her vehicle finally stopped in the Spokane River.
“I remember the car was steaming, and I thought the car was going to blow up. So, I tried to get through the sunroof. There were airbags everywhere,” said Alena.
That same morning, Joe, the executive director of Family Promise of Spokane, made a Saturday trip to one of the non-profit’s homeless shelters. Joe typically doesn’t work on Saturdays, but the pandemic had just shut everything down, and he needed to check in with his team and families.
“As I was driving, I saw a woman on a cell phone looking over the edge. So, I pulled over, walked to the edge, and heard someone screaming for help. So, I jumped over the rail and slid down the hill,” said Joe.
Joe then climbed onto the car and broke away glass to free Alena. Not once did Joe think about his safety. As a trained pastor, putting others before himself is in his DNA.
“If someone’s in need, you respond. I run towards the problem,” said Joe.
Once to safety, Joe waited with Alena until police, firefighters, and an ambulance arrived. Alena spent two days in the hospital recovering, and for doctors to keep a close eye on her baby. A few weeks later, she delivered a precious baby boy, Ezekiel.
“We debated calling him Joseph, after Joe. The only reason we didn’t was that my husband’s father was dying, and he loved the name Ezekiel,” said Alena.
The pair briefly connected through Facebook after the accident. And now, with the second anniversary here, Joe reached out to meet Alena, her husband, and three kids. Alena is now expecting another boy in about a month or so.
“I want him to know how much I appreciate him. I don’t know what would’ve happened,” said Alena.
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