A Child's Dive Into The Pool's Shallow End Turns Out To Be As Dangerous As They Say
In the blink of an eye, a fun day at the pool turned into a nightmare.
“They were all playing games,” says Jennette, Josiah’s mother. “And the kids were doing tricks into the pool, and it was the shallow end. And Josiah decided that he was going to dive, head first, through some rings in the pool. And he went straight down, and took direct impact on the top of his head. When he initially hit, he had no feeling.”
Josiah’s older brother, Ricardo Jr., was there also. “He came straight up, and I could tell he was hurt, because he started crying.”
“And they pulled him to the side of the deck, and he was crying,” says Jennette. “And he was slowly able to move and regain movement.”
“At that point, our friend’s mom had called my mom, to tell her there’s been an accident,” says Ricardo Jr.
“When you first get that phone call, it’s one of those things that as a parent you never want to hear,” says Jennette. “And when it’s your baby, your heart sinks.”
Jennette’s husband, Ricardo, was flying from Atlanta to Jacksonville when Jennette heard the bad news. When his plane landed, his cell phone lit up immediately with several texts and voice mails.
“When I heard in my wife’s voice, the intensity, the strain, I immediately sensed ‘This isn’t good.’”
“I could tell by his eyes. He was crying,” says Jennette. “He could hardly move, and he was very awkward in the way he carried himself. So we got him in the car, and went straight to Urgent Care. Within five minutes, they had him in a neckbrace, on a stabilized board. They had all the doctors there. They had contacted Life Flight.”
X-rays showed that Josiah broke four vertebrae in his neck.
“The doctor just pulled me aside,” says Jennette, “And said, ‘I just want you to know – prepare yourself for the worst. In the medical field we have a saying, ‘C-4, breathe no more’ and when you break the C-4 that is a 1% chance of survival. I just want you to be prepared. We’re going to get him there. We’re going to do our best, but please call your family and be prepared for the worst.’”
Josiah fractured his C-3, C-4, C-5, and C-6.
“The hospital‘s about a 45 minute drive in traffic and he may or may not be ok when you get there,” says Jennette. “That’s when you put it in the hands of God, and you look at him and say, ‘Baby, it’s going to be ok. You’re going to be ok.’”
Jennette was not allowed to join Josiah on his flight. She could only watch as the chopper flew away. She called her husband again to give him an update.
She said, “They took him, they took him. My heart just sunk. She said there’s a 1% chance. They’re giving him a 1% chance to live.”
“Once I contacted somebody to get me to the hospital, I had made a phone call to my family, and just let everybody know,” says Jennette.
So Jennette called family. Family called friends. Friends called churches. A prayer chain was well underway.
“I received a phone call on the way when we were driving from some dear pastor friends of ours who just began to speak life over him, and said, ‘He’s going to live. He’s not going to die. I don’t care what those doctors told you. Your baby’s going to be ok.’”
Meanwhile, Ricardo was still stuck at the airport. “I walked off the airplane, put my sunglasses on, and was a little embarrassed, people seeing a grown man weep. I fell to my knees and just started screaming to God. You can hear the cries of your spouse and your family, but you are helpless to do anything at all. I’d die for my sons. I’d give my life for them. There was that point when I’m just praying, ‘God, break my neck. Can you work it out so it’s me? You know?’”
Ricardo caught the first flight back to Atlanta. After hours of tests, Jennette finally got a report from the doctor at the ER.
“They had the x-rays from Urgent Care and they had the x-rays they took there, and they said, ‘We don’t understand. They can not be the same x-rays. I just want to let you know your son is going to be ok. You’re son is going to walk. And he is going to be fine, and lead a normal life.’”
“Because at that point, that he was going to live was imminent, but if he was going to live a normal life was still in question. I think the x-rays were different,” says Jennette. “And it was nothing but the hand of God. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was nothing but the hand of God that it didn’t actually sever.”
Their prayers were answered. Josiah still needed eight hours of surgery, which was successful. He stayed in the hospital for three weeks while he recovered.
“When we brought him home from the hospital, the entire neighborhood was on the front porch,” says Jennette. “They had all made signs and balloons and were cheering, ‘Miracle boy is home’. He was just inundated with love. They would camp out here at the house. By the time the first physical therapy appointment came, I called the doctor, and said. ‘I don’t think he needs to go to physical therapy. He’s doing so well.’ So we went in and the doctor said, ‘I think you’re right.’ So we never had to attend a physical therapy appointment after bringing him home to the house. It was only at the hospital.
Josiah fully recovered, and he likes to tell his story to others.
“I think, when people pray, God hears them. I had a 1% chance of survival. If people say it was luck, I’d explain to them how I’d say it’s not luck. It could be their opinion, but it’s not an opinion. It’s a fact, about what God can do, and how He can do it.”
Josiah is an active 12-year-old who loves to play basketball. But neither he nor his family will ever forget what happened.
“When Josiah had gotten his neck brace off, it had probably been a few days after. Micah was asleep, but Josiah was crying,” remembers Ricardo. “It was one of those hurt cries that a parent would know. And I walk in befuddled, and he was laying face down on the bed, and I say, ‘What’s the matter?’ And he turns on his back and his face is soaked with tears, and he says, ‘Dad, I almost died.’ I was blown away. And I put my hand on his back, as my hand hit that scar, I knew immediately what I was to say to my son. And I knew it would be one of those things he would remember for the rest of his life, and I know I will.”
“I said, ‘Do you feel this scar?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Your scar doesn’t remind me of death. Your scar reminds me of God’s grace, and of God’s love, and of God’s mercy. Josiah, you didn’t get this scar from falling down. You got this scar when God pulled you out. Never, ever again, let this scar remind you of death. Let it remind you of God’s grace and mercy.’”