Tracey and Dann Stadler were celebrating their fourth anniversary when their car was hit head-on by a drunk driver. He had been going the wrong way on the interstate and died on impact.
The Stadler’s car went up in flames, the doors were jammed shut, and smoke quickly filled the vehicle. Desperately clinging onto their lives, they fought to escape the fire.
“There was so much wreckage pushed in on us that we just couldn’t move. Tracey was literally trapped by the engine and everything else had collapsed in on her,” Dann recalled.
Passing motorists pulled over at the scene and attempted to rescue the trapped pair. With little they could do to help physically, they decided to pray for the lives of Tracey and Dann.
Finally, a man was able to break the driver’s side window, rescuing Dann from the flames. By that time, he could already feel his own flesh burning.
Unfortunately, Tracey was still pinned inside of the crushed car. With time running out, she began to lose hope and let go.
“I realized, ‘This is it. I’m leaving.’ And so I prayed,” she said. “I said prayers I never even knew were in my mind.”
“I said, ‘Father I pray that You forgive me for my sins. You said You have many mansions in Heaven and I pray there’s one for me.’ And I said, ‘Please don’t let me burn to death.’ And then I looked up and there he was.”
At that point, Tracey believes that she saw an angelic being that lifted her up as she began to leave her body and her soul was starting to enter into heaven. She said that she remembers seeing her grandmother who had died when Tracey was a little girl.
But then, Tracey realized something: that she wasn’t ready to go yet. She said that she remembers turning back, fighting the urge to leave, and returning to her burning body hoping to survive so that she could see her daughter grow up.
At the same time, a man appeared in the woods beyond the accident. Dann said that the stranger had a glow about him. Meanwhile, another man that was praying over the scene, fell to his knees, apparently overcome by feeling.
A rescuer was finally able to get Tracey out of the burning car. “He said she was just as light as a feather,” Dann recalled.
“She just essentially popped out right in his hands.” The stranger came over to her, placed his hands on her face as if to heal her and told a man to “take care of Tracey.”
That’s when Dann realized: there was no way he could have known her name. Her purse was burnt to ash, Tracey was unconscious, and Dann hadn’t spoken to the man himself.
“For him to know her name, he could only have been heaven sent,” Dann believes. The man then turned around, and walked back into the woods.
What followed after, was a painful and rigorous recovery process for Dan and Tracey — but they are thankful to be alive. Now, years after the deadly accident, the pair has written a book, Angels in the Fire, in which they share their story and tell of their faith.