Cassie Shepherd

July 23, 2011

A Night of Miracles


Today marks the seventh anniversary of the scariest night of my life.

On July 22, 2004 my best friend, Carli Hancey, invited me to her cabin at Bear Lake which lies in between Utah and Idaho. Around 9 PM Carli and I boarded a small paddle boat and peddled out onto the lake to enjoy the beautiful night sky. The stars shone bright as we floated and talked our troubles away.

Not twenty minutes later we gathered ourselves from the peaceful serenity and started peddling back toward the beach. The waves drew larger and it wasn't long before we realized that our small boat would not allow us to escape the wind and return to safety.

We screamed. We cried. We fell silent. No one could hear us. We were too far and the storm brewing around us was too loud. The wind dominated and we were left alone.

Or were we? For the next nine hours Carli and I prayed for our lives. We prayed to see our families again. We prayed for warmth. We prayed to survive the deathly chilling water. We prayed the waves would stop trying to consume us. We prayed to survive.

Nearly 200 miles away my parents received a heart wrenching phone call informing them Carli and I had been missing for three hours. The rest of my family was contacted and began their long journey toward the lake unsure of the outcome that laid ahead of them.

Search and Rescue said they had better pray we were abducted on the land and not by the water. They told them we would not survive the night if we had ventured onto the lake. After all, they had to pull in their sonar boat that was searching for our dead bodies because the waves were too high.

There were times I didn't think we would make it. There were times I wanted to give up. During those times Carli was blessed with the gift of strength. She kept me alive.

I wasn't only blessed to have Carli with me. We were surrounded by loved ones. Of that I have no doubt. I am grateful because our prayers were answered. We were not left alone. We were comforted and held in ways that I cannot describe.

We found hope at the sunrise. Vague light appeared above the skyline and it was then we knew we would make it. Our journey continued over the morning hours as we were found. Carli's father, James, and his friend, Keith, were the ones that sighted us nearly two miles from the closet road. We had floated nearly nine miles from where we first left the beach the night before.

James and Keith hold a special place in my heart. There is something about grasping onto the first person you see after such a terrifying experience. It forms a bond that can't be explained.

I still come to tears when I picture the first sight of my family. It was from afar, but as they were escorted by the numerous police cars I could see each vehicle that my family owned drawing closer to us. They had come for me. Again, we hadn't been alone.

My nephew was the first to reach me. The impact of his hug almost made me fall. I was weak. He was only 12 at the time, but he held onto me like he was never going to let go. He held me while I cried and I will always love him dearly for it. It is another bond that I can not explain.

We were rushed to the hospital where we were treated for hypothermia. They gave us warmed blankets, blueberry muffins and bacon (my favorite). We rested and were discharged before noon surprising everyone that we had not suffered more serious injuries.

I slept for the next three days. Pure exhaustion is the only way to describe how I felt.

Carli and I appeared on the news, on the radio stations, and in the newspaper. We even were featured in Teen People Magazine. Here is the article from the Deseret News Newspaper.

Seven years later and that night still haunts me. We live by the beach now. So many find peace in the sound of rolling waves, but only an image of crashing water against our paddle boat fills my mind. It is very distinct.

Many have forgotten, but those close to us never will. Carli and I have separate lives now. At one time we were hardly inseparable, but now we have begun our own families. We follow the various paths of life that are in front of us, but we remain close at heart because of our shared experience. It is another bond that is sealed with love. Today is her birthday. It is a day that will always share the memories of that night. We won't ever forget. We can't forget.

I have favorite scriptures, but there is one that is really just my scripture meant for me. There are so many interesting coincidences that lead back to it that I know Heavenly Father has spoken to me through this particular verse.

Shortly after our experience on Bear Lake my Dad showed me this scripture. It wasn't until college when I was one the verge of creating my own path, separate from the LDS church, that the same scripture hit me in the face during a church meeting. Again, I was reminded of it's importance when Mitch shared his favorite scripture. It just so happened to be the exact scripture our Father in Heaven had been showing me since this experience on Bear Lake.

This is what He wants me to know. This is what He wants the world to know.

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
-Helaman 5:12

Later we heard that 95% of the people who spend the night on Bear Lake die. We were blessed.

4 comments:

  1. Wow Cassie! What an incredible story! I can only imagine how terrifying that must have been for you. I am so glad you survived! I will always think of you now when I read that scripture :)

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  2. I agree, what an amazing story! You are truly blessed.

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  3. This is a testament that prayer brings about miracles.

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  4. I knew that there was something special about you, why I am drawn to your posts and the photos of your beautiful family. I'm bawling. Thank you for sharing and may God bless your family and all who you touch. <3

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