|A leson learned the hard way.
It started on a spring day like so many spring days in Napa Valley. It was sunny and warm , with all the smells of late spring. The flowers were in full bloom and the hills were still green . There was that feeling in the air that whispered that summer was just about here . It was April 30th, 1986 ,which was a Wednesday that year , and in my family that meant I should have been preparing my thoughts for church but I wasn't. Instead, I chose to go have what I thought would be a good time with my friend. At the time I was 22 years old and acting stupidly. at that time peroid in my life, like so many other kids that age, I liked to party. I had no idea early that day that I was about to pay a very high price for that. At 6:30pm that night I came very close to loosing my life, all because I chose to ignore my Christian upbringing and go sin.
Oh how I wish that I listened to the warnings I received that day from my parents and , I believe, from God. Plus, my dad had just bought a brand new spa that was being installed that day, and my mother wanted me to stay home so we could use it. I said no and went on that ride with my friend anyway, one of the worst mistakes I ever made. I wll always feel sorry for what my sin did to god and my dear family, and if I could change it I would.
The friend I was with was the very same person I spoke of in" The War Zone" chapter of this book, my bully fighting hero from junior high school. So at this time in my life , through my young eyes, I could'nt see him doing any wrong. No matter what he did, he was still a very big hero to me. Jim took me with him lots of places from the time he started driving up to the day of the crash. I still have a lot of good memories of him to go along with the bad , and to this day I do still love and appreciate Jim for all the good that he did for me. But my warm feelings and memories of him don't change the fact that his actons almost ended my life , and certainly changed it. Sadly they caused his early death four years later, which I intend to dicuss in more detail later.
On that almost fatal day Jim picked me up in the early afternoon then went to get his girlfriend and her baby. After that Jim said he wanted to supprise me and take us to the local lake for a nice day of fishing. We were all doing our share of beer drinking , and I was watching jim swim and do some cliff diving into the water, showing off for me and his girl as he did so many times before.
What has always amazed me is how well that he drove for an hour in his drunken condition all the way home so well. I had no idea he was so intoxicated.We made it to his house, just across the street from mine with no problem what so ever. Had I realized that he was so messed up drunk, I would have gone home to my waiting parents. Instead, they would soon recieve shocking news. Instead of going home and to church with my parents, I accepted Jims offer to go with him and his girlfriend and baby to camp out on the nearest beach. Soon we were back on the road again towards San franisco and the California beaches, travling over some of the very same moutain roads as just few hours before. Only this time we weren't blessed enough by god to return to our homes safely.
I don't know if maybe the booze made Jim feel a little like a race car driver who was able to take the curves on mountain roads at sixty-five, mph or more. He lost all control of his truck during of a high speed turn. He then tried very hard to correct his mistakes but couldn't do so because he over corrected his stearing. When Jim finally hit the breaks on that red Nisan truck, it began skidding from the left side of the road to the right and, what a horrible sound that was , ringing though my big ears. However, what I saw next was much worse than that sound -- and it scared me to death. The nose of jim's truck was heading straight for a collision right into the side of the mountain, at a very high rate of speed, and I was thinking ",man,we are not going to survive this."
The next thing I remember is waking up in the back of a speeding ambulance and the voice of my o buddy's girlfriend. It was so great to hear the voice of somebody I knew because I was in more pain than I had ever been in before. I looked at her and asked
her what had happened. After the sudden impact I couldn't even remember what I saw with my own eyes, she had to tell me about the crash; then my lights went back out again.
As time passed , the details about the crash, what all actually happened at the scene and everything that our bodies went through would become clear to meI, with help from the police photos and writen reports. The front end or nose of Jim's truck did indeed hit the mountain with a head on blow, just as I feared it would. The massive blow broke that truck into three pieces with parts scattered everywhere.
I was the person who received the most injuries from the crash but, if I had been wearing a seat belt at that time I wouldn't be writing this book now. The police told us I would have without any dought, died on the scene at the spot of impact just because of the way Jim's truck broke apart. So in some cases it sure makes me wonder if the seat belt laws we have now are a good idea, or not. My body was thrown 50 feet from the tiruck but on the way out my legs hit the dash board. I am not sure if my legs broke due to the dash or when my body hit the assfalt road. My face was also cut up bad.
Jim walked away from the crash without receiving any physical injuries whatsoever. In fact, he was still in good enough shape to pick me up from off that road and put me back in my manual wheelchair because he thought I might be ran over by passing cars. I am sure that's not a very smart thing to do medically, to move somebody like that if you don't know exactly how bad they are hurt but he did it anyway.
Jim's girlfriend and her baby were rideing in the bed of his truck with my wheechair at the time of the crash. They were also thrown on to the road when the bed broke free from the truck. Jim's girl's injury was a broken pelvis. The baby landed in the only soft spot near the crash. Her baby came throw all of this without any injuries at all and I think god for that.
Most of what I went through at the crash scene I really did not remember. I guess due to the fact that I was in deep shock. However I found it very hard to believe that I wouldn't remember being put back in the wheelchair by my friend but, it happend. People told me about that and I read the reports and saw photos. I guess even shock can be a huge blessing and a real gift from god when your in big trouble, at least it was for me I do believe.
Now I wake up back in the hospital, a place that I had not enter into for 11 years. All that I felt was pain and what I saw was bright lights,plus very strange faces, what I heard were many voices asking me stupid questions all at once, or at least that's what it seemed like at the time. When all the questions, texts arnd xrays were over later the doctor came to see me. The doc said that I very lucky, the only injuries I received were one compound fracture and a cut up face. With a bake of that type the bones pop up though your skin and you can actually see them. The doc said they'd fix my leg and face with some surgery then I could go home in 3 days.
I said great doc but, if my right leg is broken, the left one must be also because they both hurt me in the very same way. I ask him to xray my left leg but he kept on refusing to do it. Just one more exaymple of a lack of respect given to the handicapped by some people in all medical feilds but especially hospitals. I am very sure that doctor thought I was mentally challenged and didn't know what I was talking about, therefore he wasn't going to listen to me and act on my request.
Due to the fact that there was a number of people who did not do there jobs corectly in the first place, I ended up spending fifty days in the hospital and 38 of those days I was on life suport totally. On Saturday only three days after the crash I should have been going home. However I started feeling very strange and also breathing funny, so I told my mom I feel like I am going to die. Natually she told me that I would not die because it wasn't my time to go but Just a few minutes later though I did almost die.
The reason for all my trouble was fat embolisums louged in my lungs.The problem was caused by the one broken leg the doctor or the hospital didn't catch before it was to late.
In all the rush to try and save my life the trauma team at the hospital messed me up even more. When the team into-bated me they cut a hole in my throat but missed the spot where my trachea was. Some of my body parts don't line up exactly right. I believe they should have known that might be possible from the very start, just by looking at me. They closed up the hole in my throat and then ran a 5/16th inch tubing down through my mouth. It took the trauma team awhile to get a air tight seal on me, because I heard through the grape vine that I gave them all a good fight, ha ha. The joke was on me. The tubing was down my throat for so long that my voice box and or volcal cords now have scar tisue around them. So I do not have the volume control to my voice that I once had.
While I was still in the hospital Jim was in cort where he'd soon learn his fate. My friend, protector, and tbody guard spent the next year and one half in a state prison.
Jim tried to write a letter to me about once a week for 8 months. I just refused to answer any of them For that 8 months I was so angery with him, that I was trying hard to convince myself that I hated him and did not want to see his face again ever.
Really deep down inside my heart I could never have hated Jim, even if I had died at the scene of the crash because I know how much Jim loved me. It was my love for him, the bible (God's Words) and advice from my family that changed my mind about forgiveing him. Jim's phone calls from the prison help me to forgive him also, every time I heard his voice. I could tell that he felt sorry about what happend to his friend. I also finally took some blame for my juries because I did not have be there. The very day that my friend came home, one of the first things he did was come over to visit me and my family also. Witch all still love Jim to this day.
Our friendship did change, I never got inside anything that was moving with him again
He spent some nights at my house again and we walked whereever we wanted to go.
The last two years or so of his life I did not know where he was, as far as I knew Jim just disappeared without so much as saying goodbye buddy and for Jim that was not his normal caracter at least not where I was concerned. So I was wondering what happend to my friend and I would soon find out.
I was watching some evening program on tv, when our door bell rang. It was Jim's mother and I knew right then this was bad news coming. She never came to visit me before and didn't ever again. She set down and told me that Jim had just died. Then she exspained how. He had left the state and moved to Airzona for a job. She told that Jim was having a party on at lake med, swimming and diving plus drinking. He was drunk and the water was to cold. He got cramps and drouwnd Jim was a very good swimer, it had to be his booze that did him in.
Several years later I found out that my pastor preached his funneral service. Pastor sometimes still speaks about what happened at his funneral. as an exsample in his sermonds, of what not to do at a funneral. I would have never thought that everybody there would party at the grave side but they did. The first time I heard my pastor tell the story, then I understood why nobody told me about Jim's funneral. I had no idea his family even planned a funneral for at all.
I wondered for sometime if I would ever see Jim again in heaven. Until oneday I spoke to one of our church members who also knew him. It was one of the Gomez brothers, a family I've known since childhood. He came to my house to tell me Jim was saved. He told me my friend did invite Jesus into his heart and, it was sometime during the ministry of Pastor Jim Gusman. If so I will see him again. Walk. run, swim with him and maybe play football.
I CAN'T WAIT