RESPONDING TO PRAYERS
Barely Survived Traffic Accident
Returns To Thank L.A. Cop
Who Started A Prayer Chain For Her Recovery
By Michael Ireland
LOS ANGELES / SOUTH NUTFIELD, ENGLAND (ANS)
-- It seemed at first that Alice Mowatt didn't have
a prayer of a chance of surviving being struck by a car on a busy
Hollywood street, according to Bob Pool, a staff writer for the Los
Angeles Times newspaper.
Authorities listed Mowatt as a probable fatality when the teenage
British tourist was rushed to the hospital with severe head injuries.
But an hour later there was one prayer. And soon after that there were
thousands, said Pool.
“As doctors struggled to save Mowatt, the Los Angeles police sergeant
assigned to investigate the crash was so moved that he stepped out of
the emergency room and launched an international prayer circle on her
behalf,” he wrote.
"One nurse flat-out told me she'd never seen anyone come back from an
injury like that," said Sgt. Dan Horan. "But another nurse said she'd
seen miracles happen there, so we could pray. So I did."
No police training manual lists prayer as a tool. But Horan, 47, did
something he had never before done during his 20 years on the police
force: He stood outside Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and dialed up
friends on his cell phone to ask that they say a prayer for the victim
of a traffic accident he was investigating, Pool wrote.
Horan’s first call was to a deputy district attorney: "I said, 'Here's
what's going on. This girl's name is Alice and she's 19 years old and
she's really badly hurt and needs some prayers.' " He asked his friends
to ask their friends to help.
Soon, hundreds from all walks of life were praying for someone they'd
never heard of before — a chain reaction that would continue for weeks
and bring her piles of get-well cards and letters, said Pool.
"I was standing at the nurses' station when Dr. Wilson, the trauma
specialist on duty that night, made the call to Alice's parents," Horan
"He told them she was in very grave condition and that they should just
get here. I just thought about her poor parents getting that phone
call, having to jump on a plane and take that long ride from London to
Los Angeles not knowing if their daughter would be alive when they got
Alice Mowatt almost wasn't.
Pool continued: “She was barely clinging to life, her badly swollen
brain cutting off its own oxygen supply. Doctors induced a coma as they
fought to reduce intra-cranial pressure. At one point last rites were
administered and there was talk of possibly harvesting her organs.
Several times there were discussions about taking her off life support.”
By the time parents Anne and Rigel Mowatt and sister Lucy, 22, reached
Los Angeles, Horan had telephoned or e-mailed nearly everyone he knew.
He asked each to pray for the injured young woman — and that they ask
others to do the same.
The Mowatts spent their days at Alice's bedside. For a time, they
didn't know of Horan's prayers — or that he was returning nightly
during his police shift to look in on her.
"One day, one of the nurses said, 'Did you know that the policeman's
been coming in to see Alice every day?' He came to see her every day
for 10 weeks. It's just amazing," Anne Mowatt said.
"At the beginning we didn't realize he had asked people to pray for
her. But after a while we knew. In England, all we'd seen of the LAPD
were these cop shows. To see such a gentle person from the LAPD was
just amazing, amazing."
The cranial swelling began to recede two weeks after the accident.
Horan remembers his delight when he spoke with Alice Mowatt and she was
able to respond for the first time.
By then, the police sergeant knew details of the girl's life — and of
the accident that nearly ended it, Pool said.
Pool wrote that Mowatt had been hit by a BMW sport utility vehicle in a
Cahuenga Boulevard crosswalk near the Hollywood Bowl at 7:45 p.m. on
Sept. 23, 2002. She had been heading toward a youth hostel after
sightseeing along Hollywood's Walk of Fame. The 35-year-old West Los
Angeles man driving the SUV was not cited.
Mowatt had spent part of the summer working in a North Carolina store
before ending her visit with a tour of the United States. She had been
scheduled to return to Britain the day after the accident.
Two months later Mowatt was strong enough to return by air ambulance to
London for further hospital treatment and rehabilitation. That's when
she and her family found out just how far Horan's prayer chain had
Hundreds of cards, letters and e-mails began pouring into the family's
home in the tiny village of South Nutfield, outside of London.
"We learned the extent of what had happened when Alice started getting
cards from people all over America," Anne Mowatt said.
"They'd say, 'I'm a friend of Dan's…. We were praying for Alice.' We've
saved them at home. There are stacks of letters, boxes and boxes of
messages from people she doesn't know. People still e-mail and ask how
Alice is doing."
Mowatt suffered short-term memory loss because of the accident. But
that's fine with her. "I don't want to remember a car hitting me. So
it's a blooming blessing," she said.
But she wanted to learn more about her close call. So this week her
parents returned with her to Los Angeles to meet and thank Horan and
the doctors and nurses who saved her life.
"I think they were surprised to see me. They were hugging and kissing
me," Alice Mowatt said.
Her reunion with Horan was also joyful.
"I want to say thank you to the people who prayed. I want them to know
they made a difference," she said.
"Dan is the best blooming cop in the world. It's touching, all the
things that people in this city did for me. Doctors, nurses, policemen,
firemen, ambulance men. I had no idea how badly I was hurt."
Horan said Alice Mowatt needed all the help she could get.
"I'm not a philosopher or theologian, but this time something happened.
People with injuries identical to Alice's have died in that same
emergency room and ICU," he said. "To see her walking now and enjoying
life is amazing."
**This story first appeared in its original form in the Los Angeles
Times, Saturday, September 4, 2004. It has been adapted for use on this
** Michael Ireland is an international
British freelance journalist. A former reporter with a London
newspaper, Michael is the Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
of Garden Grove, CA. Michael immigrated to the United States in 1982
and became a US citizen in Sept., 1995. He is married with two
children. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a
British Christian radio station.