On 4 June, 2016, 14-year-old Ashley Jones was riding shotgun in an all-terrain vehicle, in the mountains of Colorado. The ground was muddy from the previous night’s rain, so when the ATV took a turn too fast, the wheels lost traction, and the vehicle flipped over onto its right side.
As she fell, Ashley instinctively reached out her right arm to brace herself. Under its momentum, the vehicle kept sliding on its side through the mud, her arm trapped beneath the bar between the front and back seats. When her brother lifted the ATV off her arm, it felt completely detached from her body.
Talking to Mel on 180, Ashley described how, astonishingly, she got to her feet, bleeding heavily, and started to walk back down the mountain. When Mel asked her what motivated her to start moving, she said she’d thought of her father, who had died only three months earlier. ‘I knew my family had already experienced the loss of a loved one. And I was like this is not going to happen again.’
‘There’s no one coming for me. So, I can either sit here and see what happens, and take those odds, or I can work and fight for myself right here, and get closer to help.’
As she walked, Ashley worried that she would lose consciousness from blood loss. Desperately, she prayed for help. ‘Literally a miracle from God, the bleeding stopped when I was walking down the mountain.’
The nearest medical facilities couldn’t help her, so she lay in an ambulance until a helicopter could fly her to Denver. In surgery, they found that her arm bones had been broken in multiple places, tearing through muscle and skin. The only part of her arm that hadn’t been lacerated was her main artery. She didn’t even need a blood transfusion, which is profoundly unlikely.
‘They tried to save my arm,’ Ashley said, ‘but because of the severity of the accident, I would have had no control of my right arm. And if they tried to suture it up, the infection probably would have killed me anyway. And so that’s when they decided to amputate, to save my life ultimately.’
Would I take back the pain?…Absolutely. But who it’s connected me with, and who God has brought into my life, and the opportunities that have come about, I don’t know if I would find the same opportunities not being an amputee
After losing a family member and a limb in quick succession, Ashley struggled with questions about what the future would look like—and she wondered why this had happened. ‘I looked at my Mum, and I was like this has to be for something. It can’t be for nothing.’
Over time she’s found out what that something was. She’d always been Daddy’s little girl, and she constantly wishes her father were still here with her. That emotional pain comes along with the phantom pain from her lost limb,
If Ashley could have her father back, she would in an instant. ‘Would I take back the pain? And would I like to feel some relief from that for two minutes? Absolutely. But who it’s connected me with, and who God has brought into my life, and the opportunities that have come about, I don’t know if I would find the same opportunities not being an amputee.’
Ashley had no idea initially whether a career as a runner was still possible for her. She had to learn to write with her left hand, to tie her laces, do her hair, and open a water bottle single-handedly. But that vulnerability has brought her closer to God. She always resisted the temptation to spend the day in bed, but there were lots of days where she knew only God’s strength would get her through.
‘If you rely on someone so much, you want to know who they are. And so that’s been the process of my faith. And again I’d have to say I’m not perfect in my approach all the time, and I do stumble and fall. But I try my best to just keep moving forward, and keep making strides towards being more loving, and someone who really embodies what God is talking about in Scripture, and trying to encourage others through this story.’