This was a weekend trip with folks from our office. I was a financial analyst with Campbell Soup Company at the time. There was some concern by the outfitters that the Cheat River (West Virginia) was possibly running too fast to go. In the end, we went and there were three rafts with about nine people per raft. I was sitting on the back of our raft with the guide. After about an hour or so of running through various size rapids, I suddenly found myself under water, tumbling through very fast rapids. I had no air because I never saw the wave coming, which knocked all but one out of our raft.
When I realized I was under water, with no air, I tried to figure out which way was up. When I approached the surface, my head hit the bottom of the raft above me so I had to go down again and try to come out from the raft. I finally did come up, tried to get a breath but swallowed more water as the waves were up to eight feet high going in all directions. I remember seeing the one person left in the raft trying to hold a paddle out for me but he was over ten yards away from me and I knew I couldn't get to him. I kept trying to get oriented and breathe air. I couldn't seem to do either. I had no idea where the others were at this time.
Then I entered a state of complete calmness. I realized I was dying and wasn't afraid of it in any way. I started reflecting about my family and that I would miss them and that this was such a silly way to die. I seemed to be just entering a peace yet I was thinking clearly and calmly as I was bouncing down the river. I almost didn't want to come back.
Then I ran into a large rope, which was thrown across the river for me to grab in hopes of saving me. I never saw it thrown. I was told I ran into it and that I grabbed onto it. I don't remember that either. I do remember once I was about ten feet from shore with folks dragging me out that I had survived. I spent the next five minutes or so hanging over the edge of the beached raft belching water out of my lungs. I actually got back into the raft and finished the rest of the ride. I wasn't real excited about getting back in but it was the only way out of the canyons where we beached. Turns out, I was the only one who was stuck under the raft and swept into deep water. The others apparently bobbed up and swam or walked to the beach along the cliffs. I am no longer afraid of dying as I now know what it's like.
Date NDE Occurred: 1988
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident Knocked out of raft in class 5 rapids on rafting trip. 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
Being suddenly knocked out of our raft in very fast and cold rapids.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
Did you feel separated from your body? Uncertain
I lost awareness of my body
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? I had two such periods:
1. When I realized I was under water and under the boat and that I was in deep trouble.
2. When the extreme calm came over me bouncing down the river when I had no more air. Everything I was thinking about was very clear and calm. Everything seemed to be fine, in order, and making sense. I had no more concern about surviving at that point.
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
Things seem slow yet my mind was thinking very fast. I had no perception that I was bouncing down a river rapid.
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. My vision seemed to be almost blank, like I didn't really need it any more?
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? Uncertain I was envisioning family/friends very fast and as I was doing so I could see them in my mind.
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? Uncertain
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Complete calm and 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
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 I remember thinking about what people would say when I'm gone and what an unusual way to go after all I'd been through in life. Still during that time, I felt completely fine with it all. It was like someone saying, it's okay, all will be fine.
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? Liberal None
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What is your religion now? Liberal None
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No
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 I don't fear death at all. I'm more emotional and sensitive today. I smell the roses more. Although I'm very successful financially, it's not as important as it was then to me.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes It was hard to describe how calm I was and clear headed once I realized I was dying/drowning beyond return. The fact that dying was scary at first. I was trying not to drown, but then drowning was extremely calming. Then, after being saved, my feeling was very reflective trying to figure out what had really happened.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain A few years later, I was on an acquisition trip in England for a corporation I was working for. I was traveling all over the country everyday looking at different factories and businesses. One day while traveling with other business associates in a limo near the town of Norwich I suddenly got that calming feeling again and felt like I was home and that I had been there before. I don't mean that I had just visited the area before; I mean that I felt like I had lived there before. I had never been there before in my life. Five years later, I started working on my family genealogy and to my utter surprise; I discovered that my family ten generations back were from Norwich, England. It about floored me. I still can't explain it today.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I have shared it with people close to me and most find it interesting but they generally let it go.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes Just what you occasionally heard on TV. I never thought much about it. In fact I was probably skeptical at the time.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real It was very clear to me. I just couldn't explain what actually happened or why.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real It is as clear today as it was that day.
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'm actually glad it happened as I think I see things more clearly now.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I wish you luck and I hope my story helps in some small way.