The saying goes: "A picture is worth a thousand words." In the case of Arika Stovall's viral Facebook photo, the picture says it all. Stovall and Hunter Hanks, a young couple from Tennessee, have become internet celebrities because of a heartwarming photo Stovall shared on Facebook in which Hanks is checking on her in the hospital after the two survived a horrific car crash that could have killed them both. "Three seconds. That's how long we had from the moment we drifted off the road until the truck hit the pillar at 85 mph," Stovall wrote in the caption. The accident happened while the couple was driving to Nashville on New Year's Day. Their pickup truck veered into bridge support, CNN reports.
"In three seconds Hunter had to handle a situation that would either kill us immediately or save our lives," Stovall writes. "He keeps beating himself up for my pain but he saved my life." Photos of Hanks' mangled Toyota Tundra show that the couple narrowly escaped with their lives. And Stovall even wrote on Facebook that paramedics told the college students they were lucky to be alive and that it was a miracle neither of them had serious injuries.
The photo of his mangled truck post-crash isn't the image that caught the internet's attention, however. Instead, thousands have been drawn to the photo taken of them in the hospital by friend Savannah Gaines. They're both wearing neck braces and covered in nicks and cuts. It's the first time they laid eyes on each other in the hours following the accident. "It was unbelievable when they saw each other. I know them so well, and they love each other so much. They were completely blessed to walk away from that," Gaines told CNN. Hanks, a college baseball player, told TV station Nashville 5 that he can't remember anything from the accident other than his truck going full tilt towards the bridge support. But he can remember that moment in the hospital. "All I cared about was seeing her and making sure she was [okay] before me," said Hank. "I didn't care what happened to me as long as she was alright."
Since the photo was posted on January 3, it's received more than 78,000 shares on Facebook. “We’ve gotten hundreds of messages just telling us that our story brought them out of a dark place in their life and changed their life,” Stovall told Nashville 5. Hanks echoed his girlfriend's gratitude in a Facebook post, saying, “We have received messages from those who were completely lost and messages from those who needed a little charge in their faith. Both of which are just as important in my heart."