No person is perfect and we’ve all made and will make a number of mistakes during our lifetime. Some can be rectified and some we just have to learn from, but some people will make mistakes that change their lives forever.
Firefighter paramedic Matt Swatzell was driving home from a 24-hour shift. His busy shift meant he’d hardly had any sleep as he drove along the roads of Dacula, Georgia. The then 20-year-old closed his eyes for a split second and that’s when a terrible tragedy occurred.
The car was being driven by a woman who was 7 months pregnant along with her 19-month-old daughter Faith.
Matt is still haunted by the horrific crash, he tells Today:
“I can still see it. I can still smell it. The horrendous noise and the glass breaking.”
The crash killed the driver June and her unborn baby; thankfully her daughter Faith survived. Matt was completely crushed by the accident he caused.
June left a husband, Pastor Erik Fitzgerald. When Erik was told about the accident, he went straight to get his daughter who crawled into his arms and fell asleep.
“I was thankful because I didn’t have to pretend that everything was okay,” he told Today.
Erik was prosecuted for the crash and during the hearing June’s husband Matt was given the opportunity to request a harsh punishment but he chose to not go down that road.
Instead Matt chose to forgive Erik and he received a community service and a fine.
Erik told Today:
“I remembered somebody said this in a sermon: ‘In moments where tragedy happens or even hurt, there’s opportunities to demonstrate grace or to exact vengeance,’” Fitzgerald said. “Here was an opportunity where I could do that. And I chose to demonstrate grace.”
The story could have ended there, but instead fate dealt them a different hand.
Matt and Erik never met until the two year anniversary of June’s death. Erik was buying a condolence card for Matt when their paths crossed in the parking lot.
They had never talked to each other before yet their chance meeting ended with the two men talking to each other for several hours in the parking lot.
They continued to meet several times and Matt even got to know with Erik’s daughter Faith.
This remarkable story goes even further when Erik remarries and they have a child who was born on the same due date of the unborn child he and June had been expecting.
Take a look at the clip below to learn more about Erik and Matt’s unusual friendship:
This is a wonderful example of how an act of forgiveness can turn a tragedy into something positive. Nothing can bring June and their unborn child back but by forgiving Matt, Erik’s life can instead take a positive turn and the men can begin to heal together.
Please share this remarkable story with your friends and family.