By Devin O’Branagan
On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, Leslie and Michael Fassio of Sebastopol, California were traveling on a treacherous stretch of Highway 93 just north of Wickenburg, Arizona with their four Australian Shepherds when their travel trailer fishtailed, and the truck and trailer rolled into the median. The Fassios suffered minor injuries, and two of the dogs escaped unscathed. The other two, Eve (four-and-a-half-years-old), and Takoda (not quite eight months old), escaped through a broken window into the desert—a remote area populated with coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions.
That night began a weeklong series of events which revealed the immense kindness of people. Almost immediately, a Facebook page went up and hundreds of people joined, eager to help search, donate money, contact media outlets, check animal shelters, follow up on reports of injured animals, and offer prayers. From there, the crisis went viral and I followed it closely. I was so moved by the story that I knew someday I’d write an article about it. The scope of everything that happened is too large to detail here, but these are the highlights:
1) Both Leslie and Michael sustained cuts and major bruising. The paramedics wanted to airlift Leslie to the hospital because her blood pressure was dangerously high. She wouldn’t leave. Instead, she meditated to bring it down to a safe enough level so they would release her. The next morning both EMTs from the night before showed up to join the search.
2) A complete stranger, Laurie Dattulo, showed up immediately following the wreck and took Leslie and Michael home with her. She let the Fassios stay in her house and use her new truck for the week while she hitched a ride to work with co-workers. The Fassios call her “their angel.”
3) Because of the Facebook page, people—mostly strangers—drove from all parts of Arizona (and even two from California) to the accident site to join the search. Another stranger, Boyd Gallaher, used his plane to search for the dogs and would not accept any money, even for fuel. A local rancher, Erik Barnes, allowed the use of his private airstrip, and offered his property as a base of operations. Other strangers showed up with search dogs, horses, and four-wheelers to tackle the rough terrain.
4) A man by the name of Matt Marrs read about the accident on Facebook, and the following morning he drove from his home in Chandler, Arizona to the accident site. His truck was in bad shape and so he spent the rest of the week hitchhiking back to help with the search. The accident happened on Wednesday night. On Friday, Matt found Eve. On Tuesday, one week from the day of the wreck, Matt found Takoda. Eve was seriously traumatized and had lost ten pounds; Takoda’s front feet were injured and he suffered a slight shoulder injury. Otherwise, miraculously, they were unharmed.
5) Animal communicator and licensed veterinarian, Belinda Joy Mason, psychically communicated with Eve and Takoda during their time lost in the desert. For days, she lent the two dogs encouragement to keep going. She gathered a group of light-workers to offer prayers, and she documented Takoda’s injuries before they were known. Dr. Mason is the resident animal communicator at my own online discussion forum. I asked her to detail the events from her perspective, and her posts may be found here (scroll down to four posts that begin on 12/26/2012). Her side of the story is remarkable.
So many miraculous things happened during that week. So many people gave in a myriad of ways. This article is just the tip of a massive, profound iceberg, but it shows what can be accomplished when good people unite to help one another. If you’d like to learn more of the details, the original Facebook page is still active and may be found here.
One of the members of that Facebook page, Angi Miller Candias, put together a moving YouTube video to honor the angels who gathered and the miracles that occurred:
The two photos used in this article were taken by Lori Acierto. Used with permission.
Devin O’Branagan is a bestselling author who writes novels about uncommon heroes. Her genres include young adult urban fantasy, paranormal thrillers, comic mysteries, and fiction about dogs and cats. She is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America, the Cat Writers’ Association, and many of her writing projects support animal rescue. Her books have been published by Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books in English, Heyne Verlag in German, and Dogan Egmont in Turkish. All of her books are available in both print and eBook formats. Visit her website at DevinWrites.com, and check her out on Facebook and Twitter.