After spending Christmas with my folks in Ohio, I set out at 5:00 am in my car to return to my apartment in Massachusetts. The weather was poor most of the way. Four hours out of Ohio, at 9:15 am, I was driving in snow and sleet, and a little too fast for the road conditions, when the car went into a skid. I began swerving toward an approaching car in the left lane. Not thinking, I stepped on the brake, turned the wheels to the right, slid sideways out of control back into the right lane, shot over the right embankment between two telephone poles, bounced into a field and across it, and ended up on a side road facing the highway! (The only physical damage to my car was the right front grill and bumper, which were bent into the right tire, which fortunately served to slow the vehicle and bring it to a stop.)
The above background is necessary in order to understand just how helpless I felt as I crossed the highway and went down the embankment. I really felt that I was going to die! During this brief interval, I experienced the panoramic life review phenomenon - a horizontal series of TV- or movie-like screens of what I believe were past events in my life. Though I couldn't remember the content of any of these scenes afterward, I recall that they were very detailed. The strip of pictures seemed to move past quite rapidly.
Date NDE Occurred: 'Dec. 30, 1958'
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
Potentially life-threatening, single-car accident.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
Did you feel separated from your body? No
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? During the very short interval as I crossed back into the right lane out of control and then down the embankment.
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
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
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 fear, a feeling of being completely helpless and out of control, a sensation of impending death.
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 See main narrative for my detailed description. No, I can't say this unusual experience really changed my life in any way.
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
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What is your religion now? Liberal
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? No
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? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The 'life review' was something real in my mind and it happened. But the event was simply too brief to become something 'significant' in my life.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes It's been more than fifty years since the experience and so I can't really recall when and with whom I shared it. But I know that I have and in fact included a one-sentence reference to the experience in my book 'Encounter at Buff Ledge: A UFO Case History' (Chicago: J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, 1994). A UFO witness's hypnotic regression account touched upon some aspects of phenomena akin to NDEs. On page 98, in reference to my own experience, I wrote, parenthetically: '(The author is living proof of someone who once experienced the life-review event during an auto accident where he thought death was imminent.)'.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Uncertain I'm not sure though I don't think so. My chief interest in the 1950s was the UFO subject and the investigation of UFO sightings. Much later my interests expanded to also embrace other 'borderline science' topics, including ghosts, ESP, NDEs, etc.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I viewed the experience as something that really happened. Obviously I never forgot the experience.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real See above but also: Since my NDE was a very brief, partial experience, it is difficult to characterize it except to say that I believe it was something that occurred in my brain and mind caused by the sudden stress and mental shock.
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? Especially in preparation for my UFO book, I studied up on NDEs which sometimes are reported as an associated element in some UFO cases, along with sleep paralysis imagery. (I have file folders on both NDEs and ESP.) I've read extensively on these phenomena.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? None.