It was a routine Friday October night in “79”….my Fiat X 1-9 hugged the curve as I left the bars on St. Simons Island and drove the 8 mile causeway to Brunswick, GA. The night was routine since it meant mixing a little booze, a little pot and maybe a pill or two…to say the least, driving with no care in the world was normal on the weekend. Except this early Saturday morning….my casual routine, as I turned onto Parkwood Dr., was about to take a “turn for the worst". I had no idea what awaited me.....I was about to enter my version of TV’s, “LET’S MAKE A DEAL”.
To fully understand the story that’s about to be told….a little description of my car needs to be given. It was also known as the “go kart” because of the small size and agility….it wasn’t built for speed but she could definitely handle a curve. She was a mid-engine car and this photo showing the up front trunk (hard top fit in here) turned out to be the last picture, in my camera....before the next one below.
What I did earlier in the evening was the reason my “show” was about to start....it involved the old Quaalude dilemma: “are the pills authentic or bootlegs"? The answer, unknown to me, was about to reveal itself…. I passed out and the story continues now through police, fire, rescue, doctor and individual reports.
It was close to 0100 when I passed out, swerved into the other lane and hit a Dodge Charger head on….the other guy was okay.... he was also intoxicated....no time to "tense up"….do two wrongs make a right???
Well anyway, he walked away but mine turned out to be a completely different story........
The Brunswick News reported that I hit the other car head on and knocked him back approx 30 feet....now this goes against all the Laws of Physics, the other car was a greater mass....my car wasn't built for speed and besides, the "accident" happen within the first 2 blocks (no time to speed up) ....was there any other forces at work to achieve such a reaction? Of course no seatbelt was used....guys on Quaaludes don't do such things!
The car never flipped....it just stopped cold.... I was still moving at the same rate of speed UNTIL my chest crushed the steering wheel. My lower left jaw snapped on impact on the hard dashboard......then my odontoid process bone (AKA the "hangman's bone"....it's the one that snaps when hung by a rope) between C-1 & C-2 fractured and then my head slammed back into the head rest. The head rest was SOMEHOW holding my neck in place.....one turn, to the right or left meant....sudden death. I'm still alive at this point but now the bad news.....remember the broken jaw? With my head cradled in the head rest....I was NOW drowning in my own blood....good news was I just started my 3 day coma and had no gag reflex (remember....neck position was very important).
During this dark moment.....Bob, a church friend of my mothers, had a dream....he was alone, walking on the sidewalk by the hospital.....a small car ran off the road and crashed into the wall of the medical complex. After waiting for the hospital to respond.... he ran over to see what could be do....looking inside he saw a bloody mess and a young man knocked out. With super human strength....thinking the car was about to explode, the older man ripped the top of the car off and JUST when he was about to pull the victim out......Bob woke with a startle and Rosemary, his wife, asked what was wrong. After hearing about the dream....both decided it was more than that.....they got on their knees around 0100 and started praying.
The dream and the crash are one: he was walking by the hospital....the crash happen on Parkwood....the main road to the complex....my mouth.....filling with blood ONLY a few blocks away.
The dreamed EMS delayed response....a wrecker was right down the road and was first to respond. The man knew he needed to clear my airway....he took an ink pen....stuck it down my throat and disrupted the clot....blood spewed everywhere.
When his dream suddenly came to an end....JUST as he was about to pull the limp body out, corresponds to the reason why I'm alive today. A small crowd of onlookers had formed but still no ambulance...the wrecker driver was JUST about to move me and someone mention not to do that...."his neck might be broken".
(I've never thought about it till now....how or who kept my neck secure when he reached in and stuck that pen down my throat?)
EMS finally arrived....the last dreamed event was about to occur....after securing my neck with a hard cervical collar....the fire department simply unhitched the hard top, removed it, pulled me out and made the short transport to the hospital.
The fire department, after they received the call, were warned to be prepared if it was a friend of theirs......"it's a bloody mess down here!".....the police never even charged me for causing the wreck....they must have thought I wouldn't make it.
My family arrived to the ER and to the unexpected as the hospital prepared me for transport, 1 hour north, to Savannah, GA.
They were informed of my injuries: fractured odontoid process bone, fractured jaw, bruise over left eye and said everything was stabilized except the concern over the massive contusion (bruising) to my chest wall....indicative of internal bleeding.
My mom and grandmother followed behind the speeding ambulance.....praying and singing scripture songs along the way.
No complications upon arrival to St. Joseph hospital....their initial report revealed: fractured odontoid process bone, fractured jaw, bruise over left eye and.....that was it....there wasn't even a small bruise on my chest....it was gone!!!
(I JUST POLITELY SMILE NOW WHEN SOMEONE SAYS....."GOD DOESN'T EXIST" or "GOD DOESN'T CARE" )
I woke up from my 3 day coma with my jaw wired shut, looking like a bird cage....Carol Hodges came and brightened my day; I'm definitely feeling better!
During my 1 week stay, the one get well card I've ALWAYS cherished was given by my step-sister Terri....proving friends and laughter are some of the best medicine you can have.
I was discharged with instructions to come back in 1 month to get jaw unwired and then have the halo removed in 3 months. The only challenge now was, "how to get me home?"
The mode of transportation is recorded in the last photo.....a funeral hearse....you should've seen the expressions of motorists as I waved through the back windows!
The story would have an even better ending if I could say I straighten up my life but the Island influence wasn't through with me yet.....after being home just 1 week, my friends took me back to the bars.
The good news was....God wasn't through with me either!!!!!!!!
I believe God is rich in His mercy but we "put into motion" certain things that can harm us. On that night in 1979, I (not God) made the accident happen and "was reaping what I have sowed". My sister Lisa, mentioned how that night reminded her of "LET'S MAKE A DEAL".......what "prize" would be mine behind the 3 curtains for me to choose from?
behind curtain #1 --- quick death.....break between C-1 & C-2 = lights out!
behind curtain #2 --- paralyzed from the neck down and breathing by a respirator (Christopher Reeves).
behind curtain #3 --- quick recovery but when 44 years old, notice a small tremor to right hand and forced to retire after being diagnosed with Parkinson's like symptoms.
I'm very thankful for #3....I try to live with a smile on my face....I do whine a little but God sees us all as a "work in progress".
THANK YOU EVERYBODY FOR LETTING ME SHARE ONE OF MY STORIES.
PLEASE REMEMBER TWO THINGS AS I CLOSE:
#1 GOD GIVES US COMFORT SO WE CAN COMFORT OTHERS WITH THE COMFORT WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM HIM. In other words....when we share....God gives us more comfort to help in time of need.
#2 GOD MIGHT NOT COME WHEN WE WANT HIM TO......BUT HE ALWAYS COMES IN TIME!!!!!