My Dads Accident
A little over 9 years ago my father started acting very out of the ordinary, very strange. But first you must understand my dad is my childhood hero and I have a great respect for him. My father also served our country over in Vietnam and received a purple heart. My friends call him perma-grin because he is always smiling and has an infectious laughter about him. He had no criminal history, but in mid September 2007 something went haywire in his brain and he lost all sense of reality. To him everything was normal and “The rest of the world was just acting crazy!” He felt threatened and the last two days before the accident he started carrying around a gun.
Due to the stress he was putting on the family, I did a last minute 8 hour round trip to Fresno to see if I could help my father in any way before I headed to Europe for 3 weeks. After sitting down with him for 4 hours I realized there was nothing I could do and I told my wife that it was going to end up in the hands of the police. Cliff was doing things that are just not acceptable in our society and for good reason.
My wife had just met me in France for a week vacation after I had just competed in Switzerland. She had been on the ground for about 5 hours when I received a text saying, “emergency! Call now!” I knew instantly something bad happened with my father, but never could have imagined what I was about to hear next over the phone.
I called my mom who could barely talk. She told me my father had been shot 6 to 8 times and docs didn’t think he was going to make it. This call was right when I was about to go to bed. Well, no flights were leaving till morning, so my wife and I just started praying. The next morning with no sleep God gave me a peace that I would see my father again alive, if only for a moment. I was strangely calm as we bought new last minute plane tickets home on the first possible flight. Family picked us up in SF and drove us straight to the hospital in Fresno. The first thing they told me in SF was that my father had opened his eyes. On the drive down I got the whole story.
Cliff had gone to my uncle’s house looking for my mom, but was in a very angry mood. He brandished his 9 mm as he searched aggressively through the house. My uncle frightened by what my father might do, called the police. When the police tried to pull him over, they were led down a high-speed chase down a main street in Fresno. The Police did a P.I.T. maneuver and put him into a ditch. Approaching his car, two shots came from my dad’s vehicle, than 18 rounds were returned into my father’s truck. Police pulled his lifeless body from the vehicle and had to revive him 5 times. No one besides my dad was physically hurt in anyway except a dent in the police vehicle that spun out Cliff’s truck. That was miracle number one!
When I finally saw my dad, at I can’t remember what time of night, I could barley recognize him. There were multiple bullet wounds to his face and everything was swollen. A sheriff sat next to my unconscious father while he was chained to the bed. That was quite possibly the hardest thing for me to witness, seeing my father treated as a criminal.
Still not knowing if he would make it, we started praying like never before, as did everyone that heard about it, which was a lot of people as this was a high profile accident, with the news covering every detail.
I’ll try to make this short, but there was so much stacked against my father and our family. I want you to try and realize why my faith in God is more secure then ever before! First thing we prayed for was for Cliff to survive. As vital signs stabilized we prayed for him to be able to breath on his own. 2 weeks after his accident, I put a prayer vigil together with only a 24-hour notice. 200 people showed up on the front lawn of the Hospital in a dangerous part of Fresno and the hospital was nervous because it was sketchy at night. The next day he could breath on his own. Miracle 3 was when he could talk. Who would cover the medical bills, which would bankrupt my parents? Would he ever walk again? Who would defend my father in court, which could also bankrupt my parents! Bail was set at 2.2 million dollars. Was he paralyzed? Was his brain damaged from the bullets to his head? Nothing was moving, fingers, toes or arms. We stood him up the first time 4 months out. He lived off a feeding tube for 6 months. Was his mental illness still present? Without my dad, my parents had no substantial way to make money. 2 weeks after the hospital released my father, my mother went into the hospital for a mastectomy and lung surgery, that I am for sure was a result of the stress from the accident. Chemo and radiation would follow for the next 6 months. Now she could not take care of herself, my dad or run the business. Fully had to surrender. Amber and I were newly weds and it was a hard way to start our new marriage. Cliff was facing life in prison with two counts of attempted murder on a peace officer, two counts of assault and one count of evading the police. It would take 10 pages to tell you how everything worked out, but believe me when I tell you it was a true miracle that only God could have orchestrated. It is a beautiful thing to sit back and look at the big picture, knowing God is in control of all and has a plan to be glorified despite our sinful nature.
Dads Injuries- hit by 7 bullets, 3 in the head (all missing his brain), one bullet thru his jaw, another through his cheek and hitting his ear drum, another lodged in his C1 of his brainstem and stopped against his spinal cord. YES, a bullet stopped against his spinal cord! Try and tell me that’s not a miracle! Such a dangerous zone that the doctors wouldn’t risk removing it. One bullet in his left elbow, two in his right elbow, both blown to pieces, and another in his stomach/ lower back. Was completely paralyzed for a long time.
Outcome- elbows fused, right leg barely works, left leg his only good limb, left arm works ok, right arm doesn’t work (used to be right handed). Deaf in right ear. Mental illness under control with medication. Mom got cleared of cancer a year later. Parents are still together. My dad now finds joy in a business he had come to hate. Between the state and my dad’s purple heart (VA hospital) most bills and court fees were covered. Business still squeaking by. Court stuff- took two years in court, court gave my father 5 years probation and 200 hours of community service and $5,000 in damages. I prayed for justice knowing God is a just God and that might mean my father spending the rest of his life in jail.
God put on my heart a week after that accident that he would snowboard again even with everything he faced. It is a miracle to watch my father snowboard again! Keep the faith!