STARK COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) — Two Northeast Ohio men who survived a crash that sent a guardrail slicing through the middle of their car are calling the close call a Christmas miracle.

The accident happened on Christmas Eve as a Stark County man and his best friend were headed to a family celebration in Alliance. As they traveled along Anderson Road just outside Minerva, the driver’s Dodge Charger suddenly slid off of the ice- and snow-covered road and struck the guardrail, which went completely through the car and out the back window.

Troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and firefighters with the Sandy Creek Joint Fire District were not optimistic when they heard the first reports from the scene.

“Not something we see every day and everybody knows that’s normally not such a good situation. It went all the way through the car and probably out the back by 12 to 14 feet,” said Sandy Creek Fire Chief Aaron Stoller.

Behind the wheel of the car was 23-year-old Jimmy Burchett, the strength and conditioning coach for the University of Mount Union football team. Sitting next to him was his best friend, Anthony Fisher.

“We saw it last second. We thought it just was going to hit,” Burchett told FOX 8. “It was probably one of the loudest sounds I’ve ever heard. And, next thing I know, in about a blink of an eye, I was laying face down, looking directly up at the ceiling, guardrail on top of my chest. It was hugging me and I couldn’t really breathe.

“After pushing on the guardrail and moving it slightly, I was able to catch my breath. I immediately closed my eyes and started praying.”

(Courtesy of Ohio State Highway Patrol)

As volunteer firefighters were arriving at the scene, so too were a group of good Samaritans who worked together to try and lift up the guardrail to free Burchett. A witness was able to call Burchett’s mother, who is a nurse, and his father, Jeff Burchett, a retired police officer, and they rushed to the scene, where Jeff helped lift the guardrail and pull his son from the wreckage.

“I’m just eternally grateful to God and then everyone that helped down there to get him out of there,” said Jeff.

After being treated for their injuries, Jimmy Burchett and Anthony Fisher are now able to go home and spend the holidays with their families, filled with a sense of gratitude.

“It’s incredible, really a Christmas miracle. So, I’m just blessed that we were able to get out of it,” said Jimmy Burchett.