I was in the United States Air Force at Castle Air Force Base in Merced, California. I worked day shift there, and then I worked swing shift at Gallo Wineries in Modesto, California. I worked as a GWW; that means a general wine worker. Part of my duties were to clean out the large tanks after the wine had been drained out. This procedure was to stop the fermentation process by purging the wine tank with nitrogen gas. This takes out the oxygen in the wine and stops the wine from fermenting. Then the tanks are supposed to be vented for many hours. The tank is checked for oxygen levels and if safe, an 'OK TO ENTER' sign is posted at the entrance, as it would be safe to enter.
This sign was posted at the tank, so the cleaning crew that I was part of set up to work on the tank. However, a mistake had been made and the tank next to this one was safe and this tank was not yet vented. In fact, it was full of nitrogen gas and was in a deadly situation for anyone to go inside. What this gas does to people who inhale it, is that it removes the air out of their system. It displaces the oxygen out of your lungs. I went into the tank and complained to the other two workers that the smell seemed really strong; I could tell it was an apple type of wine.
We had a fire hose set up to a high volume pump. This is what we used to spray down the internal walls of the wine tanks. I picked up the hose and went to the far side of the tank; about thirty to forty feet away from the small opening that was also the only way out. I gave the thumbs up signal to start the water and chlorine mix, and the pressure hit the brass nozzle hard. This was normal and the force pushed me against the wall of the tank. I held on with all of my strength. I only remember seeing the water start to come out of the hose and start across the tank to the other side. I never saw it actually make it to the other side because at that point I had been inside the tank for about three minutes. This time period was long enough for the nitrogen gas to fully remove the air from my lungs.
They told me later that I just fell to the floor of the tank and let go of the hose. The hose started to fling about violently and hit my head, face hard enough to break my safety glasses in half, and knocked my hardhat off my head.
The spotter at the entrance signaled to the guy operating the pump to shut it off. About five minutes had gone by since I first went into the tank. The spotter then came into the tank to get me and he pulled me across to the opening and pushed me halfway out of the opening. He then passed out from the gas. He had only been in the tank about forty-five seconds. The other guy operating the pump saw me hanging out of the hatch and ran over to pull me out. Then he looked inside and pulled the spotter out also. The spotter started to come to and was able to get on his feet within a few minutes.
I was still lying on the ground, not moving, not breathing, and turning blue. They began to offer CPR, pushing on my chest, applying mouth to mouth a few times and since I was not responding, they stopped and began to cry because they thought I had died.
I was having a completely different experience.
The water coming out of the hose took on a strobe like effect and it never reached the inside wall of the tank. I was then traveling through a tunnel at a very high speed. This tunnel seemed to be very long, like miles, yet it didn't seem to take any time to go through. There was a bright light. It was drawing me to it. I felt like I popped out of the tunnel and fell into this white light, yet I wasn't really falling, I was more like floating around inside of the light. It seemed like a container of light but without any end or borders. I felt very much at peace and I liked being there in the light. I felt a presence toward the center and was drawn closer to someone there. I saw what I believe to be Jesus. He was in a white robe that was dripping in pure gold. It was so real to me then and even now, I see all of the details of how he looked to me. I felt so safe, so warm and I did not want to ever leave His presence. I felt like I was home.
Then He spoke to me and told me about my life and what was yet to come. He told me that I had to go back. I argued with Him about staying but He said that it was not my time to be with Him yet and that I had many more things to do in my life. He raised up his hand and pointed back to the tunnel and I was immediately traveling back through the tunnel that I had arrived in, only a few moments before. The tunnel seemed to be the same one, same length and took the same time to travel through it back to life.
I woke up lying on my back and looking up into the eyes of the two guys that saved me, and they were indeed crying. They were shocked to see me getting up on my feet again. They took me over to medical and sat me in a chair to be seen by the nurse. Then they left and I never saw them again. The medical department tried to say it was my fault and that I must have just passed out. They asked if I had been drinking, I replied, 'No I had not.' They called my wife and she drove out to pick me up. I was mad at all of the questions and their implying that it was all my fault. So I quit, and I never have been back.
The next few weeks I was in a daze, trying to figure out what had happened to me. I never shared this until many years later to my third wife; now of nineteen years.
Date NDE Occurred: Sept. 1973
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function) Nitrogen gas poisoning.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes 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 It must be at a high level of consciousness because I still remember it so well. I don't remember anything else in my life in the same detail or way or feeling.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? In the white light.
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 Lost track of time.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did your vision differ in any way from normal? More clear, more detail, more bright.
Did your hearing differ in any way from normal? Hearing but not through ears.
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 long, like miles, felt like twenty to thirty feet in diameter.
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
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 The light was at the end of the tunnel and filled up a large area.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Love, peace.
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
The experience included: Special Knowledge
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
The experience included: Vision of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future Do not wish to share.
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? No
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? Moderate
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes More in belief of a single Creator.
What is your religion now? Conservative/fundamentalist Four Square Church
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes More in belief of a single Creator.
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? Yes That we are all connected. And that there is one source, or creator.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes More caring.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes Aware of a Creator.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Sixteen years. They are not sure what to think.
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 definitely real.
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