By any human standard, Eldon Cooper should not be alive today. This man of faith’s miracle story is one that only could have been orchestrated by the hand of God, and now he’s sharing it with the world.
To totally comprehend just how this series of miracles unfolded, we have to take you back to February 28, 2018, the day that Eldon sank his tractor into the pond on his 25-acre property, leaving him trapped inside.
Right before planning to meet his new bride, Debra, at their 6 p.m. Bible study that night, Eldon decided he would check out the pond to ensure the dam was holding up okay after the large amount of rain they received.
“I hopped in the tractor, not grabbing my cell phone, a handgun, anything,” Eldon recalled. “I mean, really, I was only going to be gone for a few minutes.”
But when he went to drop a bucket of fill-dirt to reinforce the dam, he noticed the recent downpour had caused a 4-foot straight drop.
“I didn’t want to damage the tractor, so I started backing up to head home,” said Eldon, adding that it’s a routine he’s been through at least 150 times. But this time, something went horribly wrong…
His rear tire got too close to the edge of the pond which gave way, and dropped the back of the tractor a foot and a half toward the pond, stopping just before going over the edge.
“I didn’t have much time,” said Eldon. “I thought two things. Should I open the door and jump out and try to swim around the tractor and get away from it before it would roll, if it was going to roll? I’m a great swimmer. That wouldn’t have been any problem to swim it, but could I get out of the way before it rolled? And the other thing, should I just wait here for help.”
Well, time quickly ran out. About 5:15 p.m., only a few minutes after the incident started, the John Deere began to roll backward into the pond in what seemed like “slow motion.”
He managed to get the right side tilt-out window opened just before the cab began filling up with water.
The cab filled within seconds, but Eldon’s quick-thinking and nearly 20 years of military training kicked into gear, and he was able to get out of his seatbelt and just above the waterline. His nose and mouth barely made it above the water, leaving him a little shoebox-sized pocket of air to breathe.
“You can imagine what I was thinking. I am going to sit here and asphyxiate on my own air,” said Eldon. “They are going to find me in here and this is going to be my tomb.”
But instead of panicking, he turned to prayer.
“I needed that peace that passes all understanding, so I asked for it,” he explained. “You know what; that peace came over me almost immediately. I stopped panicking, and I stopped trying to breathe so hard because I couldn’t get a full breath. But I stopped panicking, and my mind cleared and I could think.”
And his prayers weren’t quite what one would expect from a man in such a dire situation:
“I continued to pray. I prayed for my wife Debra, my kids, my family, that God would be with them and help them through whatever the outcome would be. I prayed for His will to be done. I prayed that somehow, some way, something good would come out of this situation and God would be glorified.”
Not once did he beg for his life, but only that God’s will be done.
Bizarrely, the tractor’s flashers came on, and Eldon knew it was the hand of God at work. He knew there’s no way he could have turned them on himself because it was a rotary switch.
Not long after, Eldon fell unconscious.
When he didn’t make it to Bible study, Debra knew something wasn’t right. When she got back at around 7:15, she took a first aid kit and flashlight to the pond in search of her husband. Upon seeing the sunken tractor and the flashers, she instantly called 911.
Amidst the frantic phone call, Eldon’s wife accidentally gave responders the wrong address — an address that would have taken them 20 minutes in the wrong direction — so thankfully the dispatcher checked the address on their driver’s licenses on file and got responders to the right place.
As she waited for help to arrive, Debra called around to everyone she knew to begin a prayer chain.
Upon arrival, the emergency crew initially thought the John Deere had no cab.
“They saw my protective structure on the back to keep rocks from hitting the glass when mowing, and they thought that was the ROPS [roll-over protective structure],” said Eldon. “They really didn’t know what to do. In their eyes, I was either in my seatbelt, or I was pinned under the tractor. Either way, I would be dead.”
After making the incorrect assumption, the ambulance headed back and the medical crew on site decided it would be a recovery mission the following day rather than a rescue mission that evening.
The whole time, God’s protective hand was still at work.
“When I went unconscious, I should have went [gone] limp and dropped down back into the water,” said Eldon. “God literally had to hold me back up into that air pocket.”
While everyone else was getting ready to leave the pond, Eldon’s brother Charlie called out his name.
Miraculously, Eldon responded with what they described as “deep gutteral [guttural] sounds,” though he doesn’t remember any of it.
They immediately called the responders and the ambulance back. A firefighter and diver arrived at the same time and went down to break the glass and retrieve a ‘barely alive’ Eldon.
Eldon had spent three and a half hours in 49-degree water and had a body temperature of 83 degrees. According to all normal medical standards, someone can only stay in that type of temperature for one hour before getting hypothermia. It was just another mini-miracle God performed in his series of many that night.
The next thing Eldon recalls is waking up from his coma at 1:30 a.m. asking nurses if he could help.
“I was like, ‘What are you all doing?’” he said. “It startled them. I wasn’t supposed to wake up. I was in a coma.”
Even more surprisingly, he was released that Friday, only 2 days after the incident that nearly took his life because he recovered so quickly.
“People have said I was really lucky; that I should buy lottery tickets,” shared Eldon. “Let me tell you, this was not luck,” added the man who was sure only God could be credited.
“Had God not intervened, I wouldn’t be here,” he added. “I don’t believe in luck. God had done his will, he had saved my life.”