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Emotional photo shows young couple's reunion after walking away from horrific car crash

When Arika Stovall and her boyfriend, Hunter Hanks, survived a horrific car crash with only minor injuries, they didn't feel comfortable until they could see and hold each other in the hospital.

Stovall and Hanks, both 21, were constantly asking doctors and nurses to see each other after the wreck in Tennessee on New Year's Day.

They were finally reunited after a few hours. The moment was captured in a photo by a friend that Stovall posted as part of an emotional Facebook post that has been shared more than 80,000 times.

"It's a moment I'm never going to forget,'' Stovall told TODAY.com. "It was just a big weight off my shoulders to know he was alive and well."

They have heard from strangers all over the world about how the emotion in the photo has impacted them.

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"We've gotten messages from hundreds of people we don't know saying our story and our photo has brought them out of very dark places in their lives,'' Stovall said. "It's incredible to see the power of one photo."

The couple, who are both students at Lipscomb University in Nashville, were traveling home from Jacksonville, Florida, on Jan. 1 when Hanks lost control of his truck around 8 p.m. on the highway near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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The truck slammed into a concrete pillar that was part of a highway overpass.

Stovall, who was asleep in the passenger seat, suffered only a few bumps and bruises, while Hanks received stitches in his face and was treated for a few other cuts.

The truck was destroyed.

"It's just such a miracle,'' Stovall said. "We have the same vivid memory of me getting out, helping him out, and him apologizing while we were just looking at the truck together.

“But the tow truck driver who was the first one on the scene said when he showed up I was not anywhere near the truck because I walked out to get Hunter and passed out, and he was still passed out.

“I think right now we're taking it as we were so concerned about each other that we were provided by God with a peek that we were OK."

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The night Stovall was released from the hospital, she wrote the emotional Facebook post describing their strong faith and the power of God in helping them survive.

"The way I cope with things and make them a reality so I can face them is by writing,'' she said. "It was emotional to write it, but it was also relieving because I was writing about surviving it."

They even took a smiling photo in front of the twisted remains of the truck, saying they were thankful to have survived.

"Surprisingly that wasn't as emotional as I thought it would be because we were so grateful to make it out,'' she said.

"There's no explanation. The cops, tow truck guy and doctors all said they've seen enough wrecks to know we should not be living after that. It's only been a week, but it's changed our lives and the way we're going to live them."

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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