By Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
IRVINE, California (ANS – September 20, 2017) — When a twin-engine Cessna 310 fell out of the sky near John Wayne Airport, it happened to clip the front end of an off-duty fire captain’s truck. The split-second timing of the crash on the 405 Freeway and collision with his truck allowed God’s providential hand to move powerfully to save lives.
“It’s a course of miracles, that whole event,” says Captain John Meffert. “God’s hands were over all of us on the freeway that day.”
Earlier that morning, Meffert took the Catalina Express from Avalon to Long Beach, where it docked. He ran into a former work partner on the boat, so it delayed his trip home to Rancho Santa Margarita by about 10 minutes.
“Traffic was horrible that day from the 22 Freeway to the 55,” he recounts. “That day was heavier than normal.” For many travelers, Friday June 30th was the start of an extended holiday weekend leading to the Fourth of July.
But inexplicably, the traffic cleared. “All of a sudden it opened up and I was one of the lead vehicles at the 55 transition before John Wayne Airport.”
As he approached the airport, he was on his cellphone talking with his father. Then out of the corner of his eye he saw a plane dropping unusually fast.
“Wow, that plane seems really low!” he exclaimed to his dad. “I thought the plane was over me but then his wing came right across the front of my car.”
Frank Pisano was at the controls of the plane with his wife Janan sitting by his side. He was desperately trying to make it over the freeway to reach the runway after he lost one engine on takeoff.
“I realized I was hit by the plane,” Meffert recounts. The collision spun the Cessna across the freeway so the wing hit a concrete barrier, instead of a head-on collision with the fuselage, which would have killed the Pisanos instantly.
Captain Meffert realizes if the timing had been different, it could have been much worse. “I was saved from having the top of my roof chopped in half and taking me out,” he notes. “Having the wing scrape across the front of my truck was nothing compared to the propeller hitting me or something worse happening.”
If the traffic had been heavier, there may have been a greater loss of life. “It was another miracle that we went from heavy traffic to an opening. There could have been another 15-30 cars involved,” he observes.
“And then he chose to hit me of all people!” Meffert has 21 years experience with the fire department on Catalina Island. In 1990-91 he served in the Persian Gulf War during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. During his service, he received training in intensive care and emergency medicine.
After his brush with death, Meffert pulled his truck over to the side, got out, and began jogging toward the plane. He was wearing a tee shirt, shorts and flip-flops.
“What I saw with the horrific explosion and flames and the crash I didn’t think anybody would be alive. But all of a sudden I saw Janan’s head pop up once. I picked up my speed and ran to the back of the plane and made my way to her.”
Photo captions: 1) Fire Captain John Meffert. 2) Captain Meffert running toward the plane. 3) Meffert pulling Frank Pisano from plane. 4) Mark Ellis.
About the writer: Mark Ellis is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), and is also the founder of www.GodReports.com, a website that shares testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions. Previously, Mark co-hosted a TV show called “Windows on the World” with ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, aired on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv), which is now co-hosted by Dr. Garry Ansdell, Senior Pastor of Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, California.
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