The Day My Husband Got Hit By a Train

Wanna know how to become a YouTube sensation? Get hit by a train and live to tell about it. 
It seems like a foggy memory. Almost like a dream. On April 25th, 2008 at approximately 6:30 p.m. on a dim and rainy Friday evening, the man who would 3 years later become my husband got hit by a train.
Unbelievable you say?! How the hell did that happen?! Was he drunk?! Didn’t he see that thing coming?! Did he have a death wish?! Did he survive in one piece?!

The list of questions can go on. Well, thank God, YES he survived getting hit by a train and to this day you would never think my husband, Dan, had suffered such a mind-boggling event.
Before I elaborate on the details of Dan’s dramatic near-death, experience, I must preface this with stating some things. Less than 3 months prior to the train incident, we met at a restaurant for the first time (or what Dan recalls as our first time introduction, so it was probably like our third time, but I digress) on my 28th birthday. This was one of my favorite and most memorable birthdays. My business partner at the time, Kelly, threw me a big surprise party at my favorite restaurant. We had dinner and drinks and later went out for karaoke (something I LOVE to do – make a fool out of myself so others can laugh). Dan and I hit it off that night. We met each other at the most perfect time in our lives. I had finally recovered from a broken heart and was nearly spent on tolerating another date-from-hell with the list of men that treated me like crap. And Dan was probably bored not dating anyone – and oh yes, he too had recovered from a past relationship that recently ended.

My first impression of Dan was that he was sure of himself and came off as being very secure. He was sweet and kind and gentle. And he could make me laugh! He too had no problem making an ass out of himself, karaoke-ing. And as an added bonus, he was pretty attractive. As weeks of us dating went by, our feelings grew for each other. I had been in love once before and knew exactly what I was longing to experience again – true love. I felt that he was the guy! I was so grateful to be given a second chance of real love, as I knew it is quite hard to come by.

At this time, Dan would do quite a bit of traveling for work. His career at the time required him to venture to nuclear power plants around the globe to inspect them for cracks and repair them. Certainly an important job and it required him to work long, tedious days and nights. This particular power plant that he visited in 2008 was in Joliet, Illinois. Dan had a string of long days working grave yard shifts at the plant. Now I was never aware of this, but there are lots of unmarked railroad tracks in Joliet. During a shift change on April 25th, Dan was waiting in a long line of cars that were being flagged across the unmarked track by a police officer. Dan recalls the visibility that day was not the best. He was exhausted and had his radio turned way up in order to stay awake. Soon it would be his turn to cross the tracks and finally he’d be able to get back to his hotel and rest. He saw the car in front of him pass the tracks and the officer began to wave him on in order to pass as well.

What happened next is from Dan’s memory and the witnesses that testified. As Dan pressed on the gas, he suddenly heard a deafening horn – from an Amtrak train. As soon as he looked to his right, the train was smashing through his passenger side door.
Dan remembers none of the following information from the paramedics on the scene and from the people in the cars behind him.

His car was blasted off the tracks over 40 feet. In the link below is the Hyundai Sonata that saved his life. You have to see this video footage below – the car is obliterated – everything except the driver’s seat!!!

Aftermath of Collision Video
What Dan did not remember was that he actually got out of the car after he was hit and took about 10 steps towards the bystanders! After those few steps he collapsed completely and did not wake up until later on inside the ambulance on the way to the hospital. When he did wake up, he feared paralysis. Now, I have said this a thousand times about my husband even before this massive accident – he has a really good guardian angel looking out for him 24/7 AND he must have a lucky horseshoe up his ass. Watching the video again puts me in awe. I can’t believe this really happened! He did suffer some injuries. Dan fractured some of the vertebrae in his lumbar spine and had to wear a back brace for about 3 months. He also had some minor cuts and scrapes that were easily stitched up….but that was it!

After Dan called me from the hospital notifying me of everything that happened, I knew in my heart that he had been saved for a reason. Not just to be with me, but to continue his time on this planet to make others happy too. Everyone who has ever met Dan can say he is one unique and amazing person. Genuine and sincere, passionate and giving. It’s because of Dan that I have the life I live today. If he was not in my life, I would be a completely different person. He has made me want to be a better person. He has helped me be a better soul!

It may sound a bit morbid, but we can joke about his accident today. Dan says he never has any nightmares about it, and he has nearly forgotten about the details of that day.

The featured photograph of Dan was taken by our friend, Candice Kaminski. It’s pretty clear of what he’s pretending to do (please note the cigarette he is holding was for added comedic affect – Dan does not smoke, lol). Also, these railroad tracks were not the specific ones he crossed…instead we decide to find ones in Illinois that were no longer operable and “just pretend” to say, “F U,” train!

When Dan finally went back to work, his co-workers were astounded. Everybody wanted to hear his story! I told Dan he should have created a PowerPoint presentation and held a special webinar that explained his entire story so he wouldn’t have to tell it over and over again, like he has…but now I have it all summed up and he can just smile and click a few buttons to send inquiring minds what they need to know about that tragic day that became a miracle of survival and led to two people living happy ever after.
I’ll leave you with a song that my mom helped Dan and I write a year after his accident. I really wish we would have submitted it to Hyundai – it would’ve been an epic commercial and catchy jingle…enjoy.

The Ballad of My Broken Back
(AKA: I Got Hit by a Train!)
Verse 1:
Once upon a time I had a little spill
You may not believe this wild thrill…
But I’ll tell you the tale any ol’ way
‘Cause it left me hurtin’ for many a days.
Oooh, I (woo, woo!) I got hit by a train!
Verse 2:
Don’t believe everything that you hear.
Oh yes it can happen and it was clear,
I had someone lookin’ out for me
And possibly-
Oooh I (woo, woo!) I could beat that train.
I got hit by a train and don’t know who’s to blame;
It was just a long day – I saw the officer wave,
“Come on thru it’s A OK
The tracks are clear – have a nice day!
You won’t get hit by that train.”

Verse 3:
Most say I’m a lucky man and it’s a part of some “master plan,”
But I think it was just my fate and now I appreciate
Thaahht I (woo, woo!) I survived that train.
Verse 4:
I don’t recommend getting’ hit by a train
“Cause it will leave ya in a lot of pain.
It’s really not as fun as it sounds
When you car gets smashed and flips upside down.
Oooh oh (woo, woo!) Don’t get hit by a train!
I got hit by a train and don’t know who’s to blame;
It was just a long day – I saw the officer wave,
“Come on thru it’s A OK
The tracks are clear – have a nice day!
You won’t get hit by that train.”
Verse 5:
The rental car only got me so far
If I could’a crossed the track
I wouldn’t‘ve broke my back.
But thankfully, without a doubt,
I had some angels helpin’ me out.
Oooh no (woo, woo!) they couldn’t stop that train.
Verse 6:
The lesson learned from my big accident
If you drive a Hyundai it’s worth every cent.
The car didn’t make it out that day,
But it saved my life and I walked away.
Next time, (woo, woo!) I’ll be ON that train!