Towards the end of my first year in college, I decided to drive home to visit my family during Christmas break. It had snowed so much before I left; I had to dig my car out of the parking lot. Just miles from my parents' home, who live on a farm just outside of Tonganoxie, Kansas, I stopped at a stop sign to make a left hand turn, visualized a large truck at the top of the hill and proceeded to make the turn. Before I could complete the turn, the truck that had seemed far enough away to safely make the turn hit me broadside directly at the driver's side door. I turned my head and watched the grill of the truck hit me squarely on my left side. The car began to spin.
During the spin, I looked down and could see my legs, which seemed a further distance down than they would normally and more strange I could see the top of my shoulders. It was as if I had been jolted out of my body (but not entirely removed from it). I said a quick prayer 'forgive me for my sins' and felt a wisp of air go by my face that seemed to signify (as my mind interpreted it then) the sum of my life. I had always thought people had 'video replays' of certain moments in their life before or during dying but all I felt was a very quick sensation. Then I experienced a very strong feeling of curiosity - that within the next few moments I was going to find out what happened to a person after they died.
My nose was nearly severed from my face and the impact broke my pelvis in three different places. They said the only thing that saved me was the fact that I was not wearing a seatbelt (this was before there were seatbelt laws) and had been flung across the front seat of the car as the crash had pushed the door metal clear to the passenger side. Initially, I wrote off the near-out-of-body experience as a visual hallucination as I had always thought that all of the reported OBEs were related to physiological neurological events such as the bright light and tunnel were caused by anoxia to the optic nerve etc. But the more I thought about it, I could not get past the fact that I had seen the details of the upper shoulders of the blouse I was wearing in addition to the visual accuracy of my legs, the pants I was wearing and the positioning of my legs.
Date NDE Occurred: 1985
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
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 As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? From the time the truck hit me to the time they took me to the hospital.
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
Time slowed down and I was elevated higher up in my body than normal.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. As I explained above - I could see a little higher up from my body than normal.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. My sense of hearing after the initial impact (which was the loudest bang and feeling of trauma I have ever felt) was practically non-existent.
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? No
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
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? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Intense curiosity about what happened to a person after they died.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
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 As I explained above - I did not have the visual 'slideshow' that I thought people had during dying but just a sensation of air being blown by my face and my mind interpreted that as the sum of my life.
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
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I was raised in a very strict Catholic environment but all through my childhood and adolescence had an obsessive need to prove that God existed or did not. I don't believe that God is a white-robed, long bearded deity that sits on a throne of clouds, but I do believe, more so after my accident, that there is 'something wonderful' going on 'out there'.
What is your religion now? Liberal
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I was raised in a very strict Catholic environment but all through my childhood and adolescence had an obsessive need to prove that God existed or did not. I don't believe that God is a white-robed, long bearded deity that sits on a throne of clouds, but I do believe, more so after my accident, that there is 'something wonderful' going on 'out there'.
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 I felt as if when the process of dying was complete that I would then find out what or if there is life after death.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I have been more withdrawn emotionally and view my relationships as more transitory than before.
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 I began to have psychological and/or psychiatric issues which involved some hallucination types of experiences e.g. the feelings of a presence, tactile abnormalities and a very heightened sense of smell which could be very uncomfortable.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? All of it was meaningful.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I started seeing a psychiatrist my third year of college.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I have always been very interested in finding out the meaning of life and what happens after death - studied theology/philosophy in college as well as read many books/articles about NDE and OBE. Actually, my personal experience during this car accident changed my opinions, as before the accident I really thought that NDE and OBEs could be explained from a scientific and physiologic standpoint.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definately not real Definitely not real and could be attributed to shock and neurological processes during shock.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was probably real Because I am more scientifically inclined or try to be, I initially wanted to explain away the 'reality' of my experience as physiologic response to trauma but as I said before, the accuracy of my observations during what I thought could be hallucination cannot be explained away. Almost as if my strict adherence to scientific laws came back to bite me.
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? No.