Shortly after Memorial Day, we ran a story on our front page about two men from the Tri-Towns - Mike Cleveland and Tom Clayton - who spent much of their holiday cleaning the memorial wall at the bottom of Backbone Mountain.

By Liz Beavers

Tribune Managing Editor

Shortly after Memorial Day, we ran a story on our front page about two men from the Tri-Towns - Mike Cleveland and Tom Clayton - who spent much of their holiday cleaning the memorial wall at the bottom of Backbone Mountain.

The wall contains 26 crosses representing the many people who lost their lives at the foot of the steep descent from the mountain.

Although Mike says they only have the names of 20 of those people, it is presumed each one represents an individual who lost his or her life.

When I posted the story and photo on our website and our Facebook page, several of our readers asked a question about the one blue cross located amongst the white ones.

While the white crosses are painted and bear no markings, the blue one seems to be a tape or type of material affixed to the wall and includes the words “Jesus Saves.”

Our readers wanted to know the reason for the one blue cross, and although I travel that mountain frequently and always look over at the solemn reminder of how deadly that mountain can be, I didn’t know the answer.

So I reached out to Mike and he was not only able to share the story with me, but he also showed me several photos from the accident that cross represents.

According to Mike, who keeps records on the history of the memorial wall, the blue cross represents an accident in 2009 in which a dump truck pulling a huge trailer of heavy equipment lost its brakes and flipped over onto a small silver car at the base of the mountain, right up against the memorial wall.

The car, with a female driver inside, was totally crushed and the truck wound up a short distance away on its side.

The lady in the car was from Oakland and was on her way home from work.

According to Mike, he was able to get her name and spoke with her about the accident. She talked about seeing the truck flip over on to her vehicle and thinking she was going to die.

The next thing she remembered, however, was a man or two pulling her from her car and laying her down on the side of the road.

Miraculously, not only had she survived the horrific accident, but she was only hospitalized overnight and was able to go home the next day.

Equally as miraculous, the driver of the truck, who was from Hagerstown, also survived.

“When I messaged her about the accident, it was probably about six months to a year later,” Mike said, noting that the blue cross had mysteriously appeared sometime between the accident and when he spoke with her.

And while the lady did not know who placed the blue cross on the wall, she told Mike that she knew some people who worked at the paper mill at that time and believed that one of them had put it there.

I was working at another newspaper at the time the wreck happened, and I know we covered the incident, but I didn’t remember too much about it until Mike shared some photos with me.

Believe me, looking at those photos, especially of the lady’s little car, it is beyond comprehension how anyone could have survived.

The only answer can be the message on the blue cross: Jesus Saves.

 

Liz Beavers can be reached at lbeavers@newstribune.info.