Moyie Springs man seriously injured, praying for birthday miracle

Jesse and Maria Schmitz (left) and family
Jesse and Maria Schmitz (left) and family doing what they love best, spending time together.
Jesse Schmitz
Jesse Schmitz

Jesse Schmitz is above all else a devoted family man. He was seriously injured Wednesday in a two vehicle collision in Elmira. His 49th birthday is Thursday and he’s praying for a miracle. No, no, no. Not that he’ll walk or that he’ll play piano again. Not that a helicopter will land on the terrace and a team of doctors rush in with the new heart he must have to live. The miracle he prays for is that his first grandchild will be born on the due date predicted, April 4, even though the arrival will be in far-away Indiana.

Sharing a birthday with his first grandchild would be the best birthday present imaginable, and just thinking of it, his wife Maria said, gives him momentary reprieve from the pains of his injuries, from the sudden unexpected and unalterable fact that he’s in the hospital and will be for some time. That the road to mending will be long … and that it’s likely he’ll never fully recover.

But maybe, just maybe, eight days after coming so close to having no more, he’ll celebrate another birthday, and share it and every one he’s given hence with his first grandchild. That would, indeed, be a very happy birthday.

According to the Idaho State Police, Jesse was driving a maroon Chevy Malibu on Highway 95 (the release doesn’t say, but photos suggest he was traveling south) when a white Mercury Grand Marquis crossed the center line into his lane and hit him head-on at about 2:07 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, at West Elmira Road.

“Last night me and my husband got a phone call no one wants to get,” his daughter, Jennifer Peconga later posted to Facebook. “My dad’s car, the beautiful red one, was found in a ditch absolutely totaled. We were told blood was all over the highway. The nurses at the hospital answered his phone and said he was in trauma and internally bleeding. And that they were waiting for weather to clear up so they could life flight him out. They did get him to a bigger hospital and were able to do more scans and x-rays and confirmed that there was no internal bleeding. As of this morning he is in stable condition. He has a collapsed lung, bruised aorta, spleen injury, a broken knee, broken ribs and a chip broken off of his hip. Deep gashes in his forehead, jaw and finger. They were able to stitch the side of his face back together. As well as stitches in his forehead and his finger. They’re waiting on the surgeon to see if they’ll be doing any surgery today. He’s in a lot of pain despite the morphine and the pain is expected to get a lot worse. Please lift him up in prayers. As well as my mom and the rest of my siblings who are down there with him. So many answered prayer’s already and we’re all so incredibly grateful my dad is still with us!”

Schmidt's beloved Chevy Malibu
Schmitz’s beloved Chevy Malibu

As of this afternoon, he’s stable but remains in critical condition at Kootenai Health. Maria said he has not been allowed to eat as there’s still a chance he could require life-saving surgery … morphine is attenuating the worst of his pain, but barely.

Friends have stopped in to visit, some giving her money for food and, when the time comes, a motel, but mostly bringing a moment’s comfort by their presence. But she worries, both over her husband’s pain and condition and over what lies ahead. Jesse has been out of work for three years due to a bad back and she, a home care provider, has been the family breadwinner.

“It is looking overwhelming,” Maria said, “because Jesse will need care after being released and I don’t know for how long. And I can’t really afford to take off work since I bring in the income. It will be a long recovery and will need lots of help once he is home, which we don’t have any idea yet.”

Not to put any undue pressure on the parent-to-be in far away Indiana, Maria, too finds comfort and a moment’s respite thinking what a great birthday present for Jesse if their first grandchild abides the doctor’s prediction and makes the grand entrance Thursday, April 4!

Those who’d like to donate to help the Schmitz family through this terrible time can send cards and letters and happy birthday wishes for Jesse’s 49th and, hopefully to a bawling, bundled, born-that-day grandbaby in far, far away Indiana, to Jesse and Maria Schmitz, P.O. Box 766, Moyie Springs, ID 83845. A GoFundMe account has been established at

They’ll also need plenty of help when Jesse comes home; meals, yard work, deliveries from the store, simply sharing time. To make arrangements, message Maria on Facebook.

Maria and Jesse Schmitz
Maria and Jesse Schmitz