Revisiting car wreck survivor and WNCT former ‘Christmas Miracle’ 20 years later


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – In December of 2000, Janna Thompson’s world turned upside down.

Thompson was driving home to Ohio to celebrate Christmas with her family when she lost control of her new Honda Civic as she was merging onto the highway. The car then went airborne over the median and into the path of a semi-truck.

“I remember seeing this semi-truck and realizing I was going to hit it and realizing, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to meet Jesus’,” said Thompson.

Thompson’s Honda Civic after the wreck.

Thompson’s passenger side of the vehicle was crushed by the wheels of the semi, and an explosion also occurred. “There was a tiny little bubble that I was sitting in where the wheels didn’t go,” said Thompson.

Luckily, Thompson survived the crash with only a concussion, broken collar bone, bruises and a few burns. The truck driver was also uninjured.

The angel Thompson has purchased for her mother that remained unharmed in the wreck.

“The part of the story that means so much to me was I was afraid I’d hurt him, and he was certain he’d killed me,” said Thompson. “He found me on Christmas morning and called me crying. He said, ‘I just found out that you’re alive and I thought I’d killed somebody coming home for Christmas’,” said Thompson.

After the crash, Thompson realized the Christmas gift she’d purchased for her mother, an angel figurine, also survived the wreck. A penny and a bent quarter also came out of the crash, a symbol of survival Thompson’s mother carries around with her to this day.

Once WNCT heard about the car wreck, former anchor Allan Hoffman reported on the crash. Hoffman called Thompson a ‘Christmas Miracle.’

However, Thompson’s brush with death wasn’t over. In 2008, Thompson was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. The cancer had been there for five years, but luckily didn’t metastasize.

“So, yeah I feel like again divine intervention,” said Thompson.

Janna and her husband Travis.

Now, looking back on everything, Thompson feels everything that’s happened to her in life was for a reason. The near-death experience introduced her to the love of her life. Her now-husband heard about her because of the wreck, and the two met up a month later. Thompson and her husband have been married for 17 years and have four children.

“There is not a thing about my life that I would change. The only experience that’s wasted is the one we refuse to learn from,” said Thompson.

She credits her faith and the love from family and friends for getting her through difficult times in her life.

Thompson wanted to reshare her story 20 years later, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

“2020 has been a tough year for so many people. A lot of people have experienced so much sickness and death, chaos and confusion. Yet in that place, we can still find peace and have a place of rest,” said Thompson.

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