God's other plans

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By Scotty McDaniel

"I would've rather been at church," Tabatha Baker said.

She said she looks forward to Sundays. She is a youth Sunday school teacher and an Upward basketball coach at Highland Baptist Church.

But on the cold morning of, Dec. 16, 2007, instead of making her routine Sunday trip to church, Baker, of Shelbyville said she was driving down I-64 West on her way to work at Baptist Hospital East.

Baker said it wasn't her day to work, but she called in and was told she was needed.

She said she remembers watching a truck pass her. Soon after, the truck hit a wet patch from the previous day's sleet and rain and slid into the guardrail before flipping and coming to a stop upside down, she said.

"I thought they were dead," she said. "It looked pretty bad."

Baker, a nurse for 13 years and a registered nurse in the intensive care unit at the Baptist Hospital East for the last seven years, pulled over, dialed 911 and approached the truck.

The driver and his wife crawled out of the shattered back window, sustaining only minor cuts and lacerations from the accident, she said.

"I think it was a miracle that they got out with the little bit of injuries that they had," Baker said.

Taking the accident victims into her car, she said she drove them to the emergency room at Baptist Hospital East and walked them in.

"That morning, I really didn't want to work extra," she said. "I would've rather been in church, but you know, sometimes God has other plans for us. I don't think things happen by chance. For me to be there just to comfort somebody, that's fine with me."

After that morning, she said she won't forget how suddenly accidents can happen on the road.

"For the next month I was scared to drive," she said. "Seeing that makes you more aware of your surroundings when you're driving."

But Baptist Hospital East made sure Baker would remember the day for another reason.

On Feb. 26, there was a celebration and the hospital honored her as a hero for exemplary service. Surprised by it all, Baker said she learned that Cathy Gress, a fellow nurse, had nominated her without her knowing it.

"I was humbled," she said. "It was very nice. I would hope that anybody would do the same thing. I didn't feel like a hero."

Baker is married to Larry Baker Jr., and they have a son, Jackson, 8, and daughter, Shelby, 12.