We were partway through harvesting on the farm. And it was the first opportunity to have a day off. It was a coolish looking day, so I decided to get up early and go away for the day. I headed off to meet my mates over in Wainui and we went out for a dive. Everything was going great. I caught the biggest crayfish I've ever caught in my life. Then I told my mate I was getting low on oxygen so we'd better go to the top. But I slowed my breathing down a bit too much. A faint puncture in my lungs caused air to go into my heart. I had a hole on my heart, which about twenty percent of people have, and usually never know. When the air bubbles went into the heart they went through the hole into the other side and went into the bloodstream. And because I was coming up, most of them went to my brain, which caused a series of multiple little mini-strokes. When I was coming to the surface, I knew something was wrong.
I got to the surface and I couldn't feel my legs. I called my mate over and told him things had gone wrong. "We need the boat here quick." Panic really started to set in to both of us then. We called the boat over and I said to them to throw me a rope. I lashed the rope around my arm and basically tied myself to the boat. At about that point, I remember saying, "God, I can't do this, I need your help to get me through." At this point, I wasn't walking with the Lord. I had been a few years previous. So I called out to Him and said, "I need you now." Then I blacked out, and my friends got me onto the boat.
In the confusion of getting me into the boat, they knocked the fuel line off without noticing. And while one of them was trying to radio for help, the other one was trying to start the boat and ended up getting a flat battery. They managed to flag down another boat passing by, which happened to be a dive charter going out. They had just been in the harbour, practicing a safety drill. And one of the people on board had said, "Do you ever use them?" and the guy was like, "Oh, I've actually never had to use the oxygen on board yet." And then they set off on their way. When they got to the end of the harbour, normally they always turn left. At the last minute, the captain said, "I'm going to go right today." If they had turned left, they wouldn't have found us.
They quickly transferred me onto that boat. The owner of the boat knew the operations manager at the Westpac Helicopter. So he actually got him personally on the phone as well, so that he could tell him where he needed to park the boat in the harbour and the quickest way to get into the helicopter and into the hospital. At that time, they didn't know what the water had done. They knew it was a diving accident, so they treated it as if I had the bends. I had several trips through the decompression chamber. After the first one, they put me into an induced coma. They said that people with that condition don't normally make it to hospital. They basically said to my family that I would potentially have no sight, no memory, probably no long-term memory.
I had been married for about six months. My wife wasn't a Christian either, but she had this really real sense of peace the whole way through it. So many people were praying. People that we didn't even really know, from my parents' church. Most of the people there didn't know who I was. It was incredible knowing that this whole group of people were praying for me. And just the whole peace that Sarah had the whole way through it. Even though she didn't sleep and barely ate for a week, she had this amazing peace about the fact that I was going to be okay, even when doctors and stuff were saying potentially the opposite.
They had to get me out of the coma earlier than they were anticipating because I was getting too restless. When I woke up, the doctors came to see me and said they were just amazed that I could actually see for a start. They said, "You're in hospital." I told them I knew I'd had a diving accident, and could basically relay the story to them. They were in complete amazement that I had sight, and that I had full memory of everything up until the point where I had blacked out in the water. I moved to a rehabilitation unit where I spent the next two months learning to walk. After three months, I was back at home walking unaided.
There's no way just after the accident happened that that boat could have come around the corner with oxygen, with fully trained people. Not only knowing the procedures, but knowing the right people to call as far as emergency rescue crews. No one else could have put them in line apart from God. Growing up as a teenager, going to church and everything, I guess I never really felt that closeness and didn't feel a real personal connection. And having the accident, knowing that it's the only reason I'm still here is because He's obviously got more work for me to do. He stuck to his end of the deal, so I've stuck to mine.