The below list consists of short stories regarding experiences I’ve had which can be described as “brushes with death”, as well as some notable injuries. The list will be updated as any new incidents may occur (hopefully not). Perhaps these can serve to inform the reader to make better decisions for his/her safety. Enjoy!
Almost Shot in the Head as a Child:
I was nine years old when my drunken next door neighbor shot into our house. He had been blasting music from his truck in the middle of the night when another neighbor called the police to report him. The police came to talk to him and asked him to turn off his music. He got angry and refused to comply. The officers went down the street to determine how to safely arrest him. During this time, our next door neighbor suspected my family had called, got angry, went into his house and grabbed a handgun, walked outside shouting obscenities, and shot once into the side of our house. I woke up to the sound of a bullet bouncing around the room, and debris falling from the wall. I later realized that the bullet entered the wall about 5 feet from my head, meaning a twitch of the neighbor’s wrist could have killed me. He was immediately arrested. No injuries occurred this night. I learned that the perpetrator died of cancer in 2013.
I was beginning to burn two piles of trash in our backyard, about 5-10 feet apart. I lit the first and let it burn for a while, before mostly extinguishing it. There were still small flames emerging from the first pile when I began dousing the second, larger pile with gasoline. I walked around the pile, dousing it for about 60 seconds when I decided it had enough gasoline, and took the 5 gallon can to the side of the yard to prevent an explosion. As I was walking back toward the pile of trash to ignite it with a lighter, I was about 10 feet away when the small flames from the first pile ignited the vapors of the second pile, causing a moderately large explosion. I was not burned. The explosion took me by surprise, as I did not expect the small flames to ignite the vapors. Additionally, I did not expect the pile as a whole to ignite as quickly as it did, as I had distributed concentrations of gasoline into different areas (did not matter since the vapor ignited). If I had been attempting to ignite the pile manually when this happened, I could have been seriously injured. If I had decided to continue dousing the pile for another 10 seconds, the 5 gallon gas can in my hands may have exploded, resulting in critical injury or death. If 50% of the body is covered in 3rd degree burns, the person is unlikely to survive. I have learned from this experience.
At an undisclosed time in my work history (keeping private for legal reasons, I wish not to press charges, too much of a pain), I was signaling a boom-lift to deliver a pallet to the roof of a building. After the load was delivered and myself and a crew were unloading it, the driver of the boom-lift began to lift and retract the forks without my signal. I was overtop of the forks during this, and quickly jumped out of the way. If I had not moved, the forks would have likely struck me hard in the face, or picked me up, possibly knocking me off of the roof to the concrete parking lot 50 or so feet below. I shared unkind words with the driver, and decided that would be the last day I worked that job.
Fun with my Cousin:
Ok so these experiences may not quite be “brushes with death”, but are worth mentioning. In one instance, at the ages of about 14-15 years old, we wandered past a barbed wire fence onto private property, and ended up getting lost in the Florida wilderness. We ended up dehydrated, and it took us until close to the end of the day to locate civilization, where we were able to use a cell phone to contact family and get picked up. Not very dramatic, but we were concerned about the possibility of not being found. We ended up so thirsty in the 100+ degree heat that, upon coming across old oranges we found in the woods, we tore them apart to squeeze the juices into our mouths.
Another fun experience with my cousin occurred while we were hiking Old Rag Mountain. As we were finishing the hike toward the bottom of the mountain, we accidentally came within 10 feet of a small black bear, presumably a baby. We were instantly concerned about the possibility of Mama bear appearing and becoming aggressive. Thankfully, we were able to ward off the bear from following us, and never saw the Mama.
- Tire iron to the forehead, face covered with blood, probably should’ve got stitches. Quick fix applied. Picture below, after getting cleaned up.
- Stabbed hand while cutting apart frozen burgers with a steak knife. Quick fix applied, wound reopened the next day. Fixed again.
- Spiral fracture on right hand bone feeding ring finger. Splint for 6 weeks or so.
- Metal bicycle handlebar jabbed hard into chest directly over heart, caused heart to stop for brief moment, air knocked out of me (diaphragm paralyzed).
- Kicked in the head by sister swinging on swingset, knocked unconscious, concussion received.
- Passed out at a doctor’s office after receiving blood work, fell and hit head hard on tile floor. Experienced impact-induced seizure, concussion received.
- Hit in head by medicine ball, head hit tile floor, temporarily paralyzed. I could see and hear, but I could not move or talk. My eyes would not even move. I gradually got back control of my nervous system. Concussion received.
- Slipped in shower the morning of a Drum Corps championship performance, landed directly on top of head. Concussion received, neck nearly fractured. I went on to perform at my best in the championship performance.
- Received the beginnings of a heat stroke while performing in a parade in Baltimore, MD. Carrying a 40lbs drum, refused water, or to take a break from drumming while marching. My thinking: “If we didn’t come out to give a performance and the crowd sees us taking a break, why the hell are we here?” Issue was resolved upon the completion of the parade route, where water and rest became ideal.