Landon Whitley was eight years old when he hopped into his parents’ Pontiac and took the very first of three trips to heaven.
It started on a Sunday morning in 1997 – Julie Kemp, her husband Andy, and young Landon were driving home from church when an ambulance returning to its station broadsided their car in an intersection. Andy died instantly. Rescuers stabilized Julie but did not initially realize there was a third passenger in the car.
“They couldn’t see his body because of the damage that was done to the driver’s side of the car and Landon was sitting behind his dad,” Julie says. “And when they saw Landon’s shoe, it took a deeper search for his body. When they pulled Landon out from the back of the car, he was not breathing. And they all started working on him right away to bring him back.”
Landon was resuscitated and life-flighted to Carolina’s Medical Center. He died two more times that day and both times he was brought back to life. Doctors didn’t give Julie much hope for his survival.
“They told me that if he lived, which did not look good, but that if he lived, that he would be like an 8-year-old baby… that he would not know how to walk or talk or to eat because of all the brain damage,” says Julie. “I was so desperate that that was okay. I would take that just to have him. He was all that I had.”
At her husband’s funeral, Julie remembers feeling abandoned by God.
She says, “I was very disappointed, heartbroken. And when I’m sitting at the funeral I’m fussing at God. I don’t understand why this happened. I don’t understand why He didn’t send angels to protect us. But in the very next breath I’m praying as hard to Him as I’ve ever prayed in my life for Landon to live.”
Landon had suffered massive head trauma during the accident and remained in a coma.
“He’s hooked up to all kinds of machines to keep him alive,” says Julie. “And there are no signs. There’s nothing good or bad. They see nothing happening. I kept praying that he would open his eyes.”
After two weeks in a coma, Landon opened his eyes. To everyone’s amazement he had no brain damage. But in the midst of her joy, Julie knew she had to tell Landon that his dad had died in the accident.
Julie remembers, “He had scars on his face. And his head was just full of hurt. And I didn’t want to hurt him anymore. So I asked Landon, I said, ‘Landon, do you know where your dad is at?’ And he told me, ‘Yes, I know where he’s at. I saw him in heaven’.”
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