Claire Hill, a 3-year-old Australian girl blessed by the Pope in 2008, was accidentally run over by a truck driven by her own father last Tuesday--and survived.
When he saw the three-year-old lodged under the dual rear wheels of the four-tonne vehicle, Mr Hill was certain that Claire was dead.Hail Mary, full of grace!
But this morning she is likely to be sent home from hospital with little more than grazes and minor bruising.
The tyre marks were yesterday visible on her tiny abdomen, but she astounded her parents and medical specialists by surviving the ordeal without internal injuries, broken bones or lasting physical damage of any kind.
As Claire lay in bed at Sydney Children's Hospital with a Catholic prayer book, red-eyed but smiling and talkative, she said it was her dad and God that saved her.
Her father struggled to find an explanation for his youngest child's remarkable escape.
"I couldn't think anything other than a guardian angel was holding that bus up and keeping the weight off her," Mr Hill said.
"I jumped in the driver's seat and just rolled forward," he said. "And Claire opened the door and hopped out of the car, and the next thing I know, someone's banging on the bus. I went to look and saw Claire lying underneath the two back wheels, pinned to the ground. At that moment I thought: 'God, I've killed her.' "
His wife, Sue Hill, a mother of 11, was inclined to believe in the power of prayer.
"I had put a miraculous medal [of Mother Mary] on her just an hour before," she said. As Claire lay at the Woolworths service station in Nowra, Mrs Hill told her to pray to Jesus and Mother Mary.
In the hours that followed, family and friends on the South Coast and beyond reached out through church and social networks to draw hundreds more into prayer, she said.
"All my children rang all these other families," Mrs Hill said. "My sister rang the Mother Teresa nuns in Sydney."