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Southeastern official escapes injury as garbage truck plows into kitchen

RALEIGH, N.C. (BP)–For most people, taking out the garbage is just a menial task.
But for George Harvey, bagging the trash will forever serve as a spiritual marker after he and his wife narrowly escaped serious injury when a city garbage truck barreled into his kitchen the morning of March 13.
Harvey, a lawyer and director of development at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., said he was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in his kitchen about 7:10 a.m. when he noticed a garbage truck descending on him from the crest of a steep driveway leading to his residence in Raleigh.
When the dust settled, the chair Harvey’s wife, Ann, had been sitting in at the kitchen table had been knocked through a wooden gate and into a sitting room in the back wing of the house.
“I didn’t outrun it,” said Harvey, who was hit by the refrigerator and other flying debris. “It caught me.” Harvey and his wife suffered bruises, and Ann also pulled a leg muscle.
Before coming to a stop 18 feet into the house, the driverless 17-ton garbage truck knocked over a cooking island in the kitchen, rupturing a natural gas line. “The house just filled up with gas instantly,” Harvey said.
Harvey said he can’t explain why there wasn’t an explosion as the truck’s engine hovered over the gas line or why frayed electrical wires didn’t spark a fire. Had the stove or toaster oven been on, Harvey said he’s sure his gable-roofed house would have exploded, killing him and his wife.
“I’m just thankful that we didn’t get killed,” Harvey said. “It kind of reinforces my Calvinist theology — the total sovereignty of God.”
According to police, the truck driver had parked the vehicle at the top of the driveway and set the brake, but it didn’t hold. The driver was not ticketed.
Harvey said the estimated $40,000 needed in repairs, including replacement of the kitchen appliances and restoration of solid maple cabinets and marble counter tops, is a profound reminder of Psalm 20:7: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
“You can take a lot of pride in the things you have and they can be gone instantly like vapor,” Harvey said.
Harvey refused to attribute his misfortune to the worldly superstitions of Friday the 13th. In fact, when his wife made reservations at a Raleigh hotel for the couple to stay in while their house is being repaired, the clerk put them in room 313.
“We stayed there; it didn’t bother us,” Harvey said. “It’s just the irony of it.”

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  • Lee Weeks