It was July 12, 1975 and I had just turned 16 on June 29th. Ironically, it had been an extremely difficult year for our family of two parents and five kids.
My brother Greg was the oldest. He was an intelligent, very athletic and handsome, 21 years old. While on break from college that previous January 1975, Greg had been bodysurfing in Acapulco, Mexico, when he became caught up into a 30-foot wave and smashed onto the rock hard bottom of the Pacific Ocean floor. Instantly, he was paralyzed, having had crushed his spine at the level of his third and fourth cervical vertebra. Greg would have surely drowned, if not for the frantic actions of friends, family, and bystanders whom literally fished Greg out from the turbulent surf. For 2 weeks, Greg was kept conscious and immobilized in the primitive, open-air Acapulco hospital, until being flown back to the states, as a Navy dependent, to Walter Reed Medical Center. Greg later described taking up the space of five commercial airliner seats, due to being sprawled out in traction, on a Stryker frame. My parents had their hands full; dealing with the aftermath of my brother's accident and his new reality, 21 years old and now confined to a life in a wheelchair.
Between January 1975 and July 1975, in addition to my brother's accident, my mother's sister and her father passed away. Our beloved family pet Bonbon passed away.
My oldest sister Stacey had gotten married at 19 years old, and gave birth to her first child in April 1975. It was Stacey, along with her husband Dave, whom was staying at our parents’ house, on July 12, 1975, to watch over us 3 younger siblings, while our parents were on their very first short vacation, since Greg's accident. They had gone for a few days to the Lodge of the Four Seasons, south of St Louis, Missouri.
On the evening of my accident, my girlfriend Talisa and I were with her boyfriend David, and his friend Jim, driving around in Dave's new, red Toyota Celica. We had seen my sister Stacey and her husband earlier at a local German festival. Stacey said that Talisa could spend the night at our house, if her Mother said it was all right. Talisa's boyfriend drove out to the edge of town, to a party near the country club, where Talisa's Mom would be. That way Talisa could obtain permission to sleep over at my house. I remember seeing and talking to Talisa's mother at that party. All four of us returned to the car and headed back into town.
There was an area, known as the 8th mile, located on our route home, notorious for drag racing. I don't crisply remember how long that we talked with friends there, or hung out. I am certain that at some point, while the four of us were in the car, where I was in the passenger front seat, that the car ran off the road at a very high rate of speed, and that my face smashed through the windshield.
THEN EVERYTHING WENT COMPLETELY BLACK. I clearly remember experiencing complete comfort; of being totally free from any sort of pain or feelings of bodily sensations at all. I've explained to people many times, that if you could think of your most enjoyable bodily sensation of any time: sex, massage, runner's high, anything pleasurable that has ever been experienced from within your physical body, it could not compare to the experience of total comfort during that state of blackness. I think that it is because we experience feelings within our physical bodies through nerves and receptors. Yet in that state, you do not feel any of that.
I awoke to the face of Talisa's boyfriend, Dave, directly leaning over me, bloody, slapping my face into consciousness. I could tell that his friend Jim was nearby, and that I was in a ditch at the roadside, apparently lying supinely in very tall, blond grasses. Dave seemed relieved to see that I was alive. I instantly asked him where Talisa was. As I asked him that question, he seemed to glance over toward the highway and saw that she was wandering into the roadway, disoriented with whiplash of her neck I later learned. Dave ran to move my friend Talisa to safety.
Then I fell into the totally comforting blackness again.
Later, I learned that some friends of ours drove upon the wreck scene and called an ambulance. I remember waking up from that complete black void several times. I saw myself lying in the ditch, while hovering above my body. My very long hair was all matted in the grass, my eyes were closed, and I had a lot of abrasions and coagulated blood over one eye area. It seemed like I was floating in and out of that totally, comforting black void.
I clearly remember the ambulance crew arriving; I hovered above them as they carefully immobilized me onto a stretcher and placed me into the bay of the ambulance for transport. I distinctly remember the faces of my friends and of the first responders; as I have rarely seen such concern and compassion expressed in another person’s face that way since. I could also see and hear everything being said at the scene, as I floated above the roof of the ambulance although I could see under the roof and into the ambulance. I returned to the black comforting state again. I remember waking up again on and off, in the local emergency room I saw my brother-in-law Dave. He held my hand in the emergency room and said for me to hang in there.
I remember hearing a very rude doctor, at the local emergency room as he stated, ‘That's what those kids get for being out there parking.’ For many years, that extremely inaccurate and unprofessional comment nauseated me. It definitely made me an advocate for patients in similar type situations. It seemed as if I was conscious on and off during that following day at the local hospital. I remember all of the visits from high school friends, mostly relieved to see me open my eyes.
At some point, it was decided that I needed to be sent via ambulance, to the St. Louis University hospital for care. Weighted tongs were attached to my head for traction of my neck. I was awake on and off during the 60 mile ambulance drive to St. Louis. I woke up in a trauma treatment area of the University hospital in St. Louis, from my comforting void of blackness, and I was floating above myself, lying supinely on an exam table, eyes closed, with Crutchfield tongs and neck traction, seeing my body there motionless, as my team of five neurosurgeons stood around me, considering my case. As I floated above them (and me) I could tell that I was floating higher than the ceiling that I actually could move through the floor/ceiling. I could see that people with a lot of white (nursing type) shoes were walking right by me, as I seemed to hover near their feet (at the next floor up). I clearly remember hearing the neurosurgeons confer, and that one of them had a bald spot on the top of his head.
I felt like a ball of pure energy, like a bunch of atoms floating in a cohesive mass, no longer confined to that physical body laying down there, although that body was not dead, and it even moved from time to time. At about that time, I became aware that I was in a much less confining dimension, more than our three dimensional world. Communication was telepathic, just like how we talk to ourselves, within our own heads. I was aware of an extremely compassionate interaction with another being infused with life, energy, and pure love. He/she was similar to a Jesus type figure, completely full of light.
There was a beautiful library type area, where I was able to experience a ‘Life Review’ of my past, present, and future, sort of an extremely efficient fishbowl type with a 360 degree view, very cool. It became clear (telepathically), after that Life Review, that it was just not my time to go. I must have seen that I did not complete whatever mission or task that I had come to my life to accomplish. I'm pretty sure also that I saw loved ones and family whom had passed. It seems as if it would not be beneficial for my mission/task for me to know or remember everything in my review.
From then on, I just knew that I had important things to accomplish before it would be time for me to go. I immediately described my experiences to my father, after I came out of my coma state. He gave me a book called, ‘Life After Life’ which led me to feel validation for my experiences, reading that others had similar events. When I mentioned the experiences to my chief neurosurgeon, he seemed a bit skeptical. He held on to the notion that head trauma and/or chemicals released into the brain after trauma likely caused me to believe that the experience was real, even though I repeated things that I saw and heard as he and his team of neurosurgeons were attending to my case (including detail of one colleague's bald spot).
After I could be discharged from the hospital several weeks later, I returned home with a halo traction brace screwed into my skull, I noticed a profound change. It seemed as if I started out with such a positive outlook, that I felt great peace of mind. Eventually, due to day to day exposure to other people, problems, and stressors, the positive and peace of mind feelings began to suffer erosion.
I have learned that humans have more power to influence circumstances through thoughts, orientation, and outlook than we are aware. My brother, Greg (who broke his neck 6 months before I broke mine) and I have discussed our experiences many times over the past 37 years. He was envious that I had an out of body, near death experience and he did not. He said that as he floated in the Pacific Ocean face down, he did not think that he could not move, was paralyzed and likely to die, instead, Greg said he thought, ‘Damn, now I won't be able to meet up with friends in Florida after this trip’.
Date NDE Occurred: 'July 12th, 1975'
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident. Direct head injury 'Life threatening trauma - yet uncertain regarding clinical death, as not being clinically monitored at all times.' Other 'Life threatening trauma - yet uncertain regarding clinical death, as not being clinically monitored at all times.'
I had broken my neck, between the atlas and axis vertebra at the base of my skull. There was a 1-inch separation and I was technically decapitated, as my team of neurosurgeons explained it to me later. I was told that I had the same type of injury as Christopher Reeve (the injury he sustained much later than mine, in 1975). When it initially occurred and I survived, my physician said that I was one of the first people to survive such an injury. It occurred on July 12th. I woke up from a coma 3 or 4 weeks later.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes As described above in my story. I saw myself in the ditch, again as responders were loading me into the ambulance, and as the neurosurgeons surrounded me in the basement trauma room at hospital. I saw people walking through the hallways as I floated through the trauma room ceiling and hovered between floors. I later told the surgeons that I heard them, and told them what they were saying. I also pointed out the one doctor's bald spot. As a nursing student a decade later, I did some clinical trials at that hospital and the area looked familiar and corresponded to my memories.
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 The highest level was not constrained to the physical plane of my normal everyday life. There were more dimensions and fewer boundaries.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? It seemed like I was at the highest level of consciousness and alertness at any time that I perceived myself as outside of my physical body.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
Different concept of time and space.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? No
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Less constriction.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. My hearing was likely more astute for significant information.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
The experience included: Tunnel
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Yes There was a sort of tunnel, yet I did not enter or go through any tunnel.
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
Did you see any beings in your experience? I sensed their presence
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Uncertain My Aunt June and great grandmother seemed to be near and both were deceased. Aunt June had recently passed away.
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: Unearthly 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 I was a light, a floating bundle of energy /atoms. I also communicated (telepathically) with a being washed in loving light/energy.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm Rather, it was earthly, yet in a time and plane different from everyday life.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? I experienced total love and comfort, and feeling compassion for causing my loved ones to worry about me.
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 or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No I understood more about the entire life overview during the experience, yet did not retain every detail and do not think it would have been beneficial for whatever my mission needs.
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? I remembered many past events
The experience included: Awareness of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from my personal future I am sure that the life review revealed future events, yet it must not have been advantageous for me to retain that information.
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Uncertain Dimensions expanded more.
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 Basically, I think that I was brought to see an overview of my purpose for being on earth, saw that I needed to stick around to finish my journey, although clearly, going to the other side is extremely desirable.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Greatly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Other Christian My father's family were Catholic & my mother's family were Protestant/Baptist. However, we moved a few times around the country - as a Navy family, & generally attended the neighborhood church, as kids.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I'm sure my beliefs were affected.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Other or several faiths I feel that most religions reflect various cultural expressions or interpretations of a similar concept. It is most certain that we all share energy and a 'life force' that has no religious brand or label. It would be interesting for me to discover if a person's religion has any bearing at all on the the NDE, as the experience seemed non-denominational.
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience I was only 16 and very open minded. I believe that having the first hand experience convinced me of certain truths.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes Large changes in my life.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
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 As noted above, all communication was telepathic. The being of light lovingly guided me through significant choices. Some form of God for sure.
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I sensed their presence
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.)? Uncertain The loving being helping to guide me seemed like the closest entity to such a figure.
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? Uncertain Did not retain that information.
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Yes Seems like we are each comprised of energy forces, like energy balls, shared among all of us.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God definitely exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Yes Some form of God for sure.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God definitely exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes That I have a duty to use the experience for good purpose: to promote love, tolerance, and empathy. We choose to come to earth, (from our heavenly home), because clearly we have a mission or a reason for wanting to be here on earth. Seems like a very organized system.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes To promote, develop love for one another, knowledge, and empathy.
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife definitely exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes That we choose to come to earth, (from our heavenly home), because clearly we have a mission or a
reason for wanting to be here on earth. Seems like a very organized system.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I greatly 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 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 Not that I could recall.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes It is most important.
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Large changes in my life I have been influenced by the experience for most of my life because I was only 16 when this occurred. I have accepted extra responsibilities; I have comforted dying persons and their loved ones. I have sought education and understanding as much as I can. I think that I have learned that service to and for others represent the most beautiful form of love and light.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Uncertain Uncertain I was too young to determine whether relationships changed.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes A lengthy process. The concept of differences with time and space seem significant to emphasize.
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
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 whole experience.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes As explained earlier, I told my father right away.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes Just a bit. I do not believe that I knew very much about it.
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 I've had 37 years to reality test the experience and it comes out that it was authentic, each time.
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 too tired at present.