While operating as the Chief Pilot for a Canadian air service, I crashed shortly after takeoff. I was Captain on a DHC-2 Dehavilland Beaver aircraft. I picked the aircraft up and flew back to the main lodge without incident. After landing, I had to do five take offs and landings before I could start transporting passengers. On my first take off, at approximately three hundred fifty feet, I had a catastrophic engine failure. Panic was my immediate response but my training kicked in and I tried restarts and could not get it to fire. I secured the engine and prepared for a crash landing.
As the floats on the aircraft started to make contact with the tree tops, I pulled back and purposely stalled the aircraft, the left wing dropped, and I felt the impact with the first tree. At that moment, everything went into super slow motion. I watched the wing wrap around the tree and watched my wing tear off the aircraft. Then everything went black and I was out for the remainder of the crash through the trees. I fully had accepted this was my time to die. I went from pure panic for the first thirty seconds, to an almost peaceful calm that this was how I was going to die.
I woke up in the aircraft and was bleeding very badly from head. I noted the severe injuries to my arm. My complete upper body was broken. I realized I should exit the aircraft as soon as possible as there was a risk of fire. I grabbed a roll of paper towels that had found their way to the cockpit and took them with me as I exited the aircraft. I started to walk to the tree line. I had ended up in a bog, nose down, on an eighty degree angle buried the entire engine, prop and cowling almost eight feet deep into the ground.
As I walked to the tree line, I continued to wipe my head with paper towels as the blood was filling my eyes quickly. I dropped many of them on the ground and made my way slowly to the tree line. When I sat down, I looked to the aircraft now about fifty feet away from me. The cockpit windows were level with the ground so I could see into the cockpit when I sat down. To my almost horror, I saw the captain’s seat upside down and an arm and leg dangling from it! I knew at that moment I was looking at myself.
I then looked around and saw a beautiful blue sky like none I’d ever witnessed before. There was not a single sound, not a bird, not even a whisper of wind. I was quickly very comfortable and felt very safe there. I then looked back into the cockpit to confirm what I saw, and sure enough, I was still hanging there upside down in my seat. At that exact moment, I uttered the words, ‘f@#$, I'm dead’. Instantly, I went out at that moment.
I woke up four days later in Surgical Intensive Care in the hospital. I had been med-evaced by aircraft. I had twenty broken bones, smashed right orbital bone, and a serious head injury. The hospital called my wife and children in Saskatchewan (where we lived) and told them I wasn’t expected to live and they needed to come immediately. I woke up and said hello to everyone. I had no brain injury at all, and the doctors call me a true medical miracle. I sat before a medical review board in 2009 after my crash and one of the five doctors present stated that with my head injury, it's fatal ninety nine times out of one hundred. Then for those lucky enough to survive, only one in one thousand survive with no brain injury. That makes the odds of me surviving with no brain injury less than winning the lottery eight times in my lifetime.
While in the hospital (this is where the story is very interesting), two Transport Canada Inspectors from Civil Aviation came to see me in the hospital. They asked me for my story and told them what I just told you. They looked at each other with a weird look and said Jeff, can we bring in the helicopter pilot who found you and rescued you? I said, ‘yes of course.’ I shook his hand and they asked me to briefly share my story again. When I did, the helicopter pilot started to cry. He said Captain, when I found you, you were hanging upside down in your seat and you did not exit the aircraft. I didn't know at that time that I had an near death experience and an out of body experience. The thing that still no one can answer is why they found fifty four blood-soaked paper towels strewn all in front of the aircraft, with a trail leading to the edge of the tree line as I explained. It sent chills up and down my spine when I realized I never actually exited the aircraft.
Five years and three surgeries later, I'm still here and have no explanation of why this happened or how those fifty four blood-soaked paper towels got outside the aircraft.
I was forced to retire from flying in 2009 because I was unable to secure my medical. My right eye vision is damaged beyond repair and my left arm is virtually unusable.
I have a video on YouTube sharing my experience and would gladly provide the link should you wish to hear a video testimony for this crash and near death experience.
Date NDE Occurred: May 14 2008
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes AccidentDirect head injury 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
I crashed an airplane shortly after takeoff. At approximately three hundred fifty feet altitude, I had a catastrophic engine failure and crashed into spring hardwood trees in northern Ontario. I broke twenty bones, my right eye was popped from its socket and my left arm broke in seven places and elbow smashed. I have very limited use of my left arm today.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Both pleasant AND distressing
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes Very blue sky. Vivid sharp contrast and color. Like nothing I’d ever seen before. I saw my aircraft clearly and the two wings that were ripped off and sitting forty yards away. I saw myself hanging upside down in the captain’s seat.
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? More consciousness and alertness than normal I heard the whistling of the wind around the fuselage and it was peaceful. I was far more at ease and alert to every sound I heard.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? After awakening in the cockpit, and for about forty five seconds just before I crashed.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Time seemed to go faster or slower than usual
Slow motion watching my wing rip off during crash.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? More vivid than usual
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. The change in vision was how I saw the sky as more blue than ever before.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. The whistling of the wind around the fuselage was intense and yet soothing at the same time.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? Some unfamiliar and strange place
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? A sense of belonging. No fear, no curiosity. Knowledge that I had died and how I died.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt no longer in conflict with nature
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No
Did scenes from your past come back to you? I remembered many past events
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Slightly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Protestant I believe / believed in god at the time of my crash. I did not attend church in many years.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Moderately important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Protestant
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I now know that there is life after death.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Yes By seeing my lifeless body in the cockpit, I was suddenly aware of one universe and we are all one piece of the puzzle.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God probably exists┬
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God probably exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? No
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are possibly meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife probably exists┬
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Uncertain I am 100% certain that there is life after death. No question about it.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I moderately feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are possibly meaningful and significant
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Slightly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Moderate changes in my life Due to my multiple injuries, I am very limited in any physical activities that I used to participate in. I stay home a lot and sometimes fear even going outside. It has had a negative effect on my overall life.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience My memory of the entire NDE is one of my most clear and vivid memories.
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? The moment when I realized I was dead. It was a moment of peace and some understanding.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I waited four years before I started to speak to my friends about it. I shared with my doctors and psychologists, but was hesitant to speak to my friends about it. Now that I've shared my story, many of my friends question me for more details and information.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I knew of near death experiences but was uneducated on its meaning and what it defined.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real It happened, plain and simple. I remembered with vivid details.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I would like you to view my YouTube video and will provide the link. That is where I learned of this website.