Three seconds. That’s how fast it all happened, Arika Stovall says. The couple don’t even know how they managed to make it out alive.
Stovall, a Lipscomb University student, and her boyfriend, Hunter Hanks, were driving back to Nashville, Tennessee, from Jacksonville, Florida, on New Year’s Day when the young couple’s pickup veered into bridge support.
They don’t remember how they ended up just seconds away from slamming into a concrete slab, but photos of Hank’s mangled Ford Tundra show how the two narrowly escaped with their lives.
“I don’t know how we lived through that,” Stovall, a graphic design student, tells CNN affiliate WTVF.
But it wasn’t the photo of the devastation that caught people’s attention on social media. It was the photo of the couple reuniting at the hospital that has touched the hearts of social media users. In the photo, Hanks is leaning over Stovall, who is lying in a hospital bed; they’re smiling at each other despite their wounds.
The couple shared the photo of them in their neck braces on Facebook.
“Three seconds. That’s how long we had from the moment we drifted off the road until the truck hit the pillar at 85 mph,” the post starts. Throughout her post, Stovall tells those to believe in the power of love and God.
“We’re so grateful for this wreck and all it will do in our lives,” she writes.
Savannah Gaines, a close friend of the couple, captured the viral photo when the two laid eyes on each other hours after the accident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“It was unbelievable when they saw each other. I know them so well, and they love each other so much. They were completely blessed to walk away from that,” Gaines says.
The couple didn’t expect the photo to become so popular online. It had more than 71,000 shares on Facebook on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve gotten hundreds of messages just telling us that our story brought them out of a dark place in their life and changed their life,” Stovall tells WTVF.
Both suffered from concussions, but they plan on returning to school on Monday.