I was approximately
19 years old. I was in college in New York City. I led a
fairly balanced life. I was just a
normal urban, happy teenager. I was a bit
naive for my age due to my upbringing. I would do a lot of cultural
activities and travel. My family was Austro-Hungarian, upper middle class,
not particularly religious, but a highly morale family. I am first
generation and was raised as American as I could be under the circumstances.
It was a cold
winter night and I was at an upper
east side apartment warming
party with some friends. It was getting quite late in the evening and it was
about 20 degrees with a chilling wind. I had lost track of time and I was
trying to figure out the best way back to my downtown apartment with minimal
costs, as I was a financially struggling college student. I wanted to do as
much as I could on my own without my family's financial help. It was too late
to take mass transit and too costly to take a taxi. A friend's boyfriend had
a VW bug. She lived ~ 4-5 blocks from me and asked if I would like a ride
downtown. I said yes!
When we were
ready to leave, I noticed that here were going to be 7 people in
this small car. Teenage judgment made that ok. It was a relatively short
drive. There were 3 people seated in the back seat and one girl laying across
the 3 back seat passengers. I was sitting in the front, hovering over the
stick shift of the car, between the driver and my friend. The driver decided
to take 11th avenue downtown. 11th avenue is similarly structured to Park
Avenue; a two way avenue with a median divider that ran through Hell's
Kitchen. Everything seemed normal, the driver was going ~20 miles an hour to
catch all green lights down the avenue.
street sign I remember seeing was 52 or 53st. Just as we were
approaching the next intersection, I could see a large black car coming very
fast towards 11th avenue from what must have been about 51st. I noticed that
he was going the wrong way up this one way street. I turned my head to warn
the driver about this situation and saw a look of sheer horror on his face. I
can still see his face today when I close my eyes. He already knew that he
could not avoid this fast moving car. I knew we were going to have a crash
and I turned back to watch it come. There was no way to better secure myself
and there was no time. I heard the impact, the sound of crunching metal and
an abbreviated breaking glass sound and then everything went to nothing.
hard to describe. No sensory input or output. I don't know what
else to call it other than describing it as black or nothing. It was similar to
being under general anesthesia but I went "out" instantaneously, not
gradually. It was like black paint running down a piece of window glass very
quickly. There was no sense of time
and no sense of spatial relationship to
anything or any one. I had no ability to think or reason. It was simply...
nothing. I wasn't me, no one or no place was anything. It is difficult to
I do not know
how long this sensation lasted. There was no relationship to
time. Then something began to happen to me. I felt as if I was submerged
under what I will call "heavy black water" and I felt like I was
and having the breath squeezed out of my chest and I could not take a breath.
knew this was associated with death. The "heavy black water" was
not really black. It was a color that does not exist.
It was dark and
strange. I have never seen this color before or since this experience.
I was able to
reason at that point and felt a great sense of panic came over
me. I somehow instinctively knew that if I did not begin to quickly "swim
upwards" and get my head above
this "heavy black water", that I would surely
drown in it and I would stay like this forever.
I had the sense that I was
very deep down under whatever this water like substance was. I was terrified
that I would stay in this state or place forever if I did not try to get
myself out. So, I began to use all of my mind and energy to "swim" up
as quickly as I could. It was a very tiring fight and it felt like I was
for a very long time and getting no where. I had no feeling that I
was winning this fight to freedom at any time. I would not give up and kept
on swimming, instinctually going in what I thought was the "up"
never thought the direction was incorrect or gave any thought to it at all. I
don't know how I knew which way was up.
Then, all of
a sudden, I could hear voices speaking around me. It was as if
someone had turned my hearing on. I had no other senses. I could just hear
voices. No visuals, I could not feel touch or temperature or pain. I remember
clearly everything that these voices were saying. I remember for instance,
"Is she free on that side? Hurry, it's gonna blow, get her out NOW!!! It's
burning bad" A lot of panic,
my friend's voice screaming but making no sense
and what seemed like a lot of men screaming orders at each other. Scary
It was better than nothing. I felt some relief, but I could see
the black water under my feet, like I was being lifted into the air and I was
listening to the bedlam and then it became really faint, like background
music. For some reason I could see my bare feet dangling beneath me in mid
air, high above the water, at that point. I could see the bottom of a white
night gown just above my feet. I just kept on looking at it, but the scary
part seemed to be over as long as I monitored my
relationship to the black
water. It was seeing, but not with
my eyes. Another experience that I cannot
describe. Like a dream but not exactly.
of jumped time and relationship at that point. I am not sure what
happened but I heard a man say, "she's crashing..." and I went
I was thrust
into the nothingness that had occurred before the black water for
a second time. I could no longer "see" or hear anything. The water did
return, thankfully. Again, the time element was missing. i don't think I
realized until much later that they were even speaking about me. I found it
interesting to listen to. I had no opinions or feelings on what was going on
was restored for a second time and I could hear what was being
said. I knew I was free from the car and was some place else. I could hear my
friend. She seemed like she was close by from then on. There was a lot of
talking and a lot of questions about who should be contacted on "her"
I heard a
man's voice say, "She's cute, what is wrong with her? Is she dead,
yet?". The person sounded incoherent so I could not be sure about what was
being said and I did not know who they were speaking about, nor was I
could hear the sounds in the ambulance and the medical talk and
my friend screaming that her" mother was a judge and she was going to sue
everyone". That was the statement that made me panic and I realized that
they were talking about me. I tried to speak/ yell, move.... anything to tell
them that I could hear them and I was inside. I could do nothing but listen.
I became afraid of a live burial and then I went back to nothing again.
thing I remember from this evening
was waking up in what looked
like a huge white room. There was a huge NYC policeman standing over me
saying over and over again, "You was G.D. lucky kid.." I saw a
about my age and saw a person lying on a table next to me in a straight
jacket. Then I remember nothing
until months later when I was told what had
happened to me.
We did have a
crash. I was pronounced dead and revived. My friend's sternum
was cracked. The other passengers got out without serious injury. I was told
that because we were so tightly packed against each other in the car, it
minimized the injuries. The man in the black car was going 55MPH and never
braked and broad sided the car I was in. I was partially ejected through the
windshield of the car and got stuck 1/2 way through. My arm had broken the
steering wheel in 1/2 and I was all wrapped up in the mangled wreckage.
workers had a difficult time getting me free from the car. The car had
jumped the divider skidded across the north bound lanes and hit an electrical
pole. There were sparking wires around the car. There was gasoline leaking
from the cars. Those voices I heard were real people who were trying to get
me out before the car exploded or caught fire.
I was freed
from the car and was taken into a neighborhood bar in front of
the crash site and laid out on a table while waiting for the ambulance to
arrive. There was a drunk man who
did ask if I was dead. I was taken in an
ambulance to a hospital and I went into arrest in the ambulance. My
girlfriend was screaming about suing and did ride in the ambulance with me.
No one remembers the NYC police man and the man in the straight jacket. The
handsome man that I saw was my then boyfriend. I could not recognize him as
someone I knew. I didn't even know who I was for a long time. I am still not
sure if he was there at that time or at some point later. I knew I was safe
the Experience Has Meant to me in My Life
answer. It has meant different things at different points in my
life. I was 19. I am now 38. I do not know how much of my life experience has
changed my point of view on the experience. It is hard to tell. I do know
that at 19, I thought that I was immortal. I knew after this incident that no
one is immortal as youth believes. I had numerous phobias, especially about
moving vehicles and not having control in vehicles such as airplanes, buses.
I am still
afraid of heights and flying. I get what I call car paranoia when I
get over tired. Any car moving quickly from the right towards me scares the
daylights out of me as a passenger and a driver. i over compensate and can
be dangerous when I am over tired and do not drive in this condition any
When I first
realized the extent of the experience, i believed that all I had
been taught about God was wrong and scientists were right. We die and there
is no after life. I stood firm on that for many years and lived as if time
were a valued commodity. I wanted to experience everything and miss nothing
because I believed that this is all we have. I am far more careful about how
I go about life.
As I have
grown older, I want to believe that there is life after death and
have explored many major religions for the answer. Not so much for me, but
for my child. I don't want her to be nothing. She is something else! It
puzzles me how such a beautiful bright spirit can be here 1 minute and then
not be here. That is the most major concern that I have. I did not want to
have children before I could answer this question, but things beyond our
control happen in life.
Part of me
still thinks that we are just part of an out of control chemistry
lab called Earth. We live and we die. I don't want that to be true but I have
no choice. I'll have to wait and see what happens when I go for good.