Emotional image of couple reunited after horrific crash inspires thousands

Emotional image of couple reunited after horrific crash inspires thousands

(Arika Stovall/Facebook)

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — It's certainly not difficult to find photos of young couples in love on social media, but one particular Facebook post has touched the hearts of thousands of strangers thanks to the moving story behind the image.

Hunter Hanks and his girlfriend, Arika Stovall, were driving from Florida to Tennessee on New Year's Day when Hanks lost control of his truck and slammed into a concrete pillar, according to Today. The truck was destroyed, but somehow both Hanks and Stovall made it out with just cuts and bruises.

"Three seconds," Stovall wrote in an emotional post on Facebook. "That's how long we had from the moment we drifted off the road until the truck hit the pillar at 85 mph. In 3 seconds, Hunter had to handle a situation that would either kill us immediately or save our lives."

According to Stovall's post, Hanks had to be cut out of the mangled truck, while she was able to make it out on her own.

The couple was taken to an area hospital, where they were treated separately. Both were frantic to know whether the other was OK and constantly asked doctors and nurses for updates.

After several hours, Hanks was finally given permission to visit his girlfriend in her room. A friend snapped a picture of the moment the couple was reunited, and that image has since been shared nearly 100,000 times since Stovall posted it to Facebook.

"When we were both lying in our beds in the ER, he found a way to come protect my heart and give me a hug," Stovall wrote. "Lord knows I needed that just as much as my safety."

Three seconds. That's how long we had from the moment we drifted off the road until the truck hit the pilar at 85mph. In...

Posted by Arika Stovall on Sunday, January 3, 2016

The couple was released from the hospital fewer than 48 hours after they arrived, and just a few days after the accident, snapped another photo in front of the scrap of metal that was once Hanks' truck. Hanks posted the image to his Facebook page, along with a note of gratitude to God and those who'd offered their support.

"Once again, thank you to everyone who prayed and is still praying for us and sharing our story," he wrote. "You would be amazed at how many lives have been touched and how many people have reached out to us explaining why their faith in God is restored all because of such a frightening but yet beautiful miracle."

The couple, both students at Lipscomb University, attribute their survival to God and have vowed to go forward with a renewed sense of faith.

"There's no explanation," Stovall told Today. "The cops, tow truck guy and doctors all said they've seen enough wrecks to know we should not be living after that. It's only been a week, but it's changed our lives and the way we're going to live them."

It's only by the grace of God (that we don't deserve) that just 2 days later we're able to smile and stand in front of...

Posted by Hunter Hanks on Monday, January 4, 2016

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Jessica Ivins


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