Pastor David Glass was sliding out from under his car after installing new brakes when he bumped his knee against the car jack, and several hundred pounds of automobile landed on his face.
Simultaneously, he heard his bones breaking, felt excruciating pain, thought of his two young children, prayed and struggled to kick his feet so that someone would see him, he said. Finally, he lost consciousness.
Then the miracles began, said Glass, 36, of Glendale, recounting his June 2 accident at a dinner Saturday to honor the six people who saved his life.
A neighbor coming home early from school spotted him pinned beneath the car, ran to her house and phoned for help. Although the girl's older sister called the Glendale Fire Department to cancel the call after she thought the man was only working on his car, the two firemen responding to the call decided to check anyway.
They arrived to find Glass pinned beneath the right front axle of his car, and with the help of two passers-by, lifted the automobile while a neighbor pulled Glass to safety.
"He didn't look like he was going to make it," said Glendale firefighter Mark Berg, one of those honored by the Van Nuys Seventh-Day Adventist Church, where Glass is a pastor. Berg administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and within a few minutes, Glass was breathing on his own.
Battalion Chief Charles Noon, one of the four men who lifted the car off Glass, suffered a fractured vertebra in the rescue. It took Noon, a 36-year Glendale Fire Department veteran, two months to recover from the injury.
Glass suffered broken bones in the back, ear and face, and lost two front teeth. He is now back to work tending to his 600-member congregation.
"The accident has given me a new appreciation for life," Glass said. "Some would call it luck, but I call it Divine Providence."
Also honored by the more than 100 congregation members who attended the dinner were neighbors Anna and Katy Katiforis, Bill Ball and Bob Miller, who were driving by and stopped to help lift the car.
Glass was presented with his own gift from Debbie Smith of the church's social committee: a pair of car safety ramps.