I was working as a deckhand on a tug-boat and as we tied up to the barge I jumped off to connect the batteries to the running lights. While I was doing so, I heard a yell from the tug from the chief, Bill. I ran back and Bill was looking down. I looked and saw Rick was coming up. He was in the water. As soon as I could, I grabbed for him. With the snow that was falling I was close to slipping in too as I was reaching down at least four feet. The tug was a couple feet off and by that time the first mate was kneeling on my legs so I wouldn't slip in. The tug was getting closer and as the rubbing fenders were the only things that were going to connect on Rick's head I couldn't let him go; so I squared my shoulders, held his hand, and let the tug start to squeeze me.
All I can remember is I was scared because I couldn't get out. Then I thought my ribs were going to mesh in with each other and I kept thinking the tug would have to stop soon, only I didn't know why it wasn't stopping. I thought my head was going pop off and then Bruce (a friend who had passed away two months earlier) said, 'Hello Donnie,' just like the way he did in high school. I said hello and trusted him completely. I was then drifting beside him. He guided me to a beautiful white light and a swirling tunnel.
Things seemed to speed up and like a flash, my whole life seemed to go by. I saw a body on a beach and I knew it was mine. I asked what was happening. A voice came back and said, 'You are drowning.' Then I saw my mother and my sisters Lorna and Mary-Lou crying at the kitchen table and I screamed out, 'No!' I didn't know which way to flail but when I hit the surface of the water I took an awful big breath of air.
It was probably close to ten o'clock at night and snowing heavy. The visibility wasn't too good so I guess I looked south first. All I could see was black, east, same thing, same thing north, and then west and I could just make out a bit of light. I don't remember much from that point, only as I got closer to the light I read the name on the back of a boat 'Flo' and as I swam up to the side of it I heard the engines and with a shock said, 'You work there.' As I swam around the bow, I heard voices and Bill the chief engineer yelled out, 'Donald!' My name came back to my mind and as I got closer, Rick was hanging on a steel ladder. He couldn't get his feet up so I reached up, first time I felt any pain, and with my arms grabbed onto the ladder. I put my head under Rick's butt and we both made it onto the barge. There were big snowflakes and I was on my knees looking up, all I could see was snow. Then I was embarrassed in front of all my co-workers. I don't remember anything after that except when I was on a shift, after we got left with a tow, and my shoulders could barely turn the wheel.
Date NDE Occurred: December 1973
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident Life threatening event, but not clinical death I was trying to save someone from getting their head crushed and instead got myself squeezed until the last thing I remember was my head was going to pop off. My co-worker and friend had fallen in the water off a tug-boat and was going to be crushed between the tug and the barge we were tied up to. I tried to rescue him and ended up in the water myself, drowning.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Frightening
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? No I clearly left my body and existed outside it
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? Normal consciousness and alertness
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I thought my head was going to pop off.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning When I came up out of the water I was wearing work boots, coveralls, leather jacket, and my shoulders were not working. I don't remember swimming back until I read the name on the boat. After all these years I would say I drifted two to three hundred yards under the water before I came up.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Yes The tunnel was open and I was going but after asking and seeing my mother crying I yelled no and I woke up under the water.
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes Bruce was on my right and said hello like he would in high school as he was a couple of years older. I looked up to him and when he said it's okay I trusted him with my life. Then he motioned with his arm and I was going into this white tunnel.
The experience included: Light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes Bruce let by him and said it's okay you are welcome and the white light and tunnel was there.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Trusting Bruce and the peace and then seeing my body on shore and my mother crying and in horror I said no.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? incredible joy
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Conservative/fundamentalist None
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I know that there is an afterlife.
What is your religion now? Moderate My own I do know that the light is there.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I know that there is an afterlife.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? No
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes Twenty years after seeing a friend of mine who had passed away two months before my experience I finally went and told his brother that Bruce had made it.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? I know that even when I was twenty-one I was welcome to enter the other side.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I think it was close to twenty years before I told Bruce's brother about how I believe that Bruce made it to the other side. It was hard and I think Robert handled it as well as he could.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definately not real I didn't believe.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real. By not believing it possible for twenty years I continued to work on boats until, after many nervous break-downs, I have Post traumatic problems and manic depression. I wish I could have been able to talk about it earlier but thought people would think I was insane.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No