Amazing story of rescue in Union County, IL - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Amazing story of rescue in Union County, IL

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The couple set out on a horseback ride on Godwin Trail, not far from Bald Knob Cross. The couple set out on a horseback ride on Godwin Trail, not far from Bald Knob Cross.
Their horses threw the Pinkstons off after stirring up a hornet nest. Their horses threw the Pinkstons off after stirring up a hornet nest.
Rescuers got some help from Frank Hayward, Dr. Frank Hayward. He's a neurosurgeon who practices in Cape Girardeau. Rescuers got some help from Frank Hayward, Dr. Frank Hayward. He's a neurosurgeon who practices in Cape Girardeau.
"We spotted two horses without riders," said Frank Hayward. "One horse had a bridle missing, and a saddle was off to the side". "We spotted two horses without riders," said Frank Hayward. "One horse had a bridle missing, and a saddle was off to the side".
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UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) -

An Illinois couple has quite the story to tell after a terrifying horseback riding experience over the weekend.

They along with many others believe divine intervention played a role in their dramatic rescue.

The Broken Wheel Ranch in Alto Pass, IL was a getaway spot Sunday for Rick and Tonya Pinkston.

The couple set out on a horseback ride on Godwin Trail, not far from Bald Knob Cross.

Down the road, Frank Hayward was visiting fellow co-worker John Davidson. 

"We spotted two horses without riders," said Frank Hayward. "One horse had a bridle missing, and a saddle was off to the side".

They sensed something was wrong.

"We decided to drive over and check it out," said Hayward. 

Rick Pinkston and his wife were in trouble. Their horses threw them off after stirring up a hornet nest.

"He (Rick) said he had been stung 30-50 times," said Hayward. "His wife was down on the ground wedged between some rocks and a tree."

Emergency crews headed to the scene. 

Union County Emergency Management Director Dana Pearson says the trail is only accessible by horse or by foot.  

"It's a 30 minute walk from where they were to the top of the trail," said Pearson. 

Rescuers got some help from Frank Hayward, Dr. Frank Hayward. He's a neurosurgeon who practices in Cape Girardeau.

"I found the woman laying on the ground, and I did an examination," said Dr. Hayward. "I knew there was something wrong with her neck, some type of possible cord compression issue."

Dr. Hayward wasn't even supposed to be in the area that night.

"Things happen for a reason and I was supposed to be in Miami that night," said Dr. Hayward. 

"I feel like God placed him here," said Dana Pearson.

"The man (Rick Pinkston) said to me by the ambulance this has to be God, has to be the work of God because what are the chances of this happening and a neurosurgeon showing up in the middle of the woods."

He says the woman's injuries could have turned tragic.

"If she moved, she could have been paralyzed," said Dr. Hayward.

After four to five hours rescuers got the couple from the scene, and to the hospital. Both are now back home.

"Everyday when I go to work it's just a job. When things like that happen, it's a calling," said Dr. Hayward. 

Rick and Tonya Pinkston live in Troy, Illinois.

According to a family member, both Rick and Tonya are in some pain, but are doing okay. They too feel blessed and believe they witnessed a miracle.

Rick Pinkston also has stage four cancer. Dr. Hayward says he knew he had to be there to save Tonya Pinkston so she could be there for her husband.

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