FLORENCE — It was just like a scene from a movie: A large tree limb snaps and the heroine throws her body over the children in its path.
Jackie Gregg, whose left ankle remains in an orthopedic boot after the Aug. 6 incident, says she felt the pure protection of God that day.
It was the last day of summer break before her grandchildren returned to school the next day.
Four of her five grandchildren were at her home that day, as well as a friend of her granddaughter's.
Three of the girls, including her two granddaughters — 2-year-old Callie, 10-year-old Taylor — and a friend, Millie, all ran to get on the big round swing that has hung from a huge tree limb in the Gregg's backyard for years.
"My grandson, Hunter, and I were out there and I was holding the swing so the girls could get on it," Gregg said. "We got them on, and Hunter had backed up for me to push it and the branch about 15 feet up just snapped, and the girls fell to the ground followed by the tree limb."
In the nick of time, Gregg managed to get her body over the girls as the swing struck her in the back of the head, knocking her out.
"I must have hit my head on something on the ground too, because I had a double concussion, front and back," she said.
As Gregg lay unconscious with the rope from the swing around her neck, and the limb across her back, she said Taylor was able to free her from the rope and got the limb off her while young Hunter ran to call his father, Gregg's son. Taylor also grabbed her phone to call her Pawpaw, Gregg's husband.
The two men got Gregg to the hospital, where her injuries were treated and scans of her head were taken.
In addition to the concussions, Gregg suffered broken ribs on her right side, a left broken ankle, and other abrasions as the limb scraped the skin off her back.
"The people at the hospital kept telling me how lucky I was, but I don't consider it luck at all, but a blessing of God," she said.
As for the girls, their injuries were minimal. Taylor had a black eye, likely from her cheekbone hitting the swing during the fall. Millie got a small bump on her head, and baby Callie got three small scratches on her toes.
Gregg joked that Callie talked all week long about her injuries.
Callie's brother, 5-year-old Corbin, was also outside when the incident happened.
"I know this will always be etched in the memory of these children," Gregg said. "But they've seen firsthand how very, very good God is."
She said the children all started school the next day, while she has had a much lengthier recovery and continues to heal.
Gregg doesn't consider herself a hero, but credits her "Nana intuition," which she believes was a part of God's protection that day.
She paused to compose herself before adding, "It brings tears to my eyes to think of how differently this could have turned out."
Her daughter, Sarah Davis, said it's the "what if's" that haunt her the most.
"The fact is, the worst didn't happen and we're so very grateful," Davis said. "The older kids stepped up and did exactly what they were supposed to do."
Davis said her mother was just being the loving grandmother she's always been.
"That's just totally who she is," Davis said. "There's not a more loving, caring person anywhere, and she literally loves these grandchildren with her life."
Gregg said she'd do the same thing again in a heartbeat, but she knows she'll never have to — at least not in her yard.
"We'll be doing away with that swing," she said.