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Brutal Boating Accident Nearly Takes Man's Life

Robert Hull - 700 Club Producer

“While I’m laying in the ambulance and I’m trying to breathe and it’s just—it’s getting shallower and it’s getting harder, and I just couldn’t push air anymore.” Says David, “Like it just wouldn’t go through and I just looked up at them and I just whispered, this is my last breath. And that’s the last thing I remember.”

July of 2016, David lay dying in the back of an ambulance. The high school football coach was in need of several miracles, after a boating accident with his family on the Colorado River left him fighting for life. “I’d been up and down through that area, you know, thousands of times.” He says, “Each trip we would go, that was the only way to get in and out back to the –to where we were camping or where our house was. The sun was setting and it was coming down at an angle. And there was a glistening shimmer on the water, but you couldn't tell how deep it was.”

A sand bar had developed just inches under the water’s surface since the last time David had cruised this stretch of the river. He drove his boat onto the sand bar at nearly 40 miles per hour. “So we went from just going full speed, you know, with a boat full of people just having a great time, to zero within just a few feet.” He says, “The full force of the collision was right on my neck. I’d hit the steering wheel right at my voice box and airway. And immediately I could feel it was becoming difficult to breathe. my first concern was my family and my kids. But the inability to really, I physically couldn’t really do anything. Because I was in really bad shape, I knew that I was in trouble.”

Without medical attention he knew he would soon be unable to breathe.  David says, “It became very difficult to breathe very quickly. And I could feel it tightening up and I could feel my airway starting to close. That was the time that, you know, that you really cry out to God and say, you know, ‘I can’t do this. And I’m going to need You to see us through this.’ you know, whatever God’s plan was, that I was okay with it and the only way that I could have peace was knowing that I knew Who held my future.”

David and his family are Christians. As they prayed, they saw God’s hand in their time of need. “My wife tried to call 911, and we’ve been in that area a lot and could never get a cell phone to work from that area. And we tried many times in the past, you know, to call and check on something back home. And never gotten through. That day the phone call immediately went through to 911.”

First responders quickly arrived at a nearby boat ramp but had to wait for a sheriff’s boat that was still twenty minutes away. Thankfully, an off duty Sherriff heard about the situation and rushed to the sand bar in his personal boat.  David says, “If the sheriff, if the off-duty sheriff that came for me had not come, with certainty I would’ve died on the boat in front of my kids.”

While in transit to a hospital in Yuma Arizona, he sent a text to a friend from church. “I just said that we’d been in an accident and that I thought everybody else was going to be okay. And I said that I was in bad shape; pray for me.”

Hundreds of people began praying for David as news got out about the accident. Before he reached the hospital his lung collapsed and he passed out. Dr. Brian weeks explains the severity of David’s condition, “What David experienced was what’s called a laryngeal fracture, and it’s absolutely a life-threatening injury because of its effects on the airway and the person’s, who suffers it, ability to breathe. His vocal cord area swelled and when you swell in your airway you die.”

Doctors were able to insert a breathing tube through the damaged area in his windpipe, then he was then life-flighted to St. Joseph’s hospital in phoenix. David was placed in an induced coma for five days, giving his airway time to heal. David remembers, “The first trauma doctor, when I woke up, he looked at me and said, there’s only one reason you’re alive. G-O-D. And I knew it. I had been in that ambulance and I knew that I needed a miracle to make it.”

After his release from the hospital, David experienced intense pain and difficulty breathing once again.  He was re-admitted for an emergency tracheotomy due to a growth in his airway called a granuloma. Doctor Brian Weeks says, “We describe that in layman’s terms as ‘proud flesh’. It’s, you know, tissue that grows in the setting of healing. And, you know, those, again, in a small area like the airway, that can be very problematic.”

As doctors prepared to surgically remove the growth, they took another look in his airway and were surprised at what they didn’t see. David says, “He went in with the camera and the mass was gone. And he had never seen anything like it. He just looked at it and said, you know, it’s not there.”
Doctor Brian Weeks remembers, “It probably was divine intervention. I know a lot of people were praying for David and a lot of people were, you know, had –holding him up in their thoughts and prayers. David was very fortunate that his granuloma did go away on it’s own and that saved a lot of time and an additional procedure.

David says, “That’s an easy one to explain, you know. God still does miracles.”

Just a week later David had his trach removed and was calling plays for Christian high school football in San Diego, thankful for the answered prayers and the healing that kept him alive. He says, “I have a wife and kids and He’s given me the ability to continue to be a dad. I’m thankful for my friends who rallied for me incredibly. Just the prayers of school family, church family just the outpouring of love. You never really realize how much you’re loved until you go through a situation like this. You know, I think to think I’m a strong person, but there’s times where you know that the game is beyond your level. And this situation was certainly; I knew that I had no role in staying alive. I mean, it was –it was God’s hand and God’s mercy alone that would keep me alive.”

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