A boy, a miracle, a light... During his coma Michael saw a bright white light. Also Michael's pastor said God spoke to him and said, 'If you pray for Michael, I'll heal him.'
November 27, 2003 - Reported in the [chillicothegazette.com] written by Brooke Bunch. 'He's a miracle' Area teen gets second chance at life. And the countdown began. "One, two, three, four ... " When the count reached "17," cheers filled the room, as spectators witnessed the new record high in steps taken by Michael Way.
At first glance he's a goofy 15-year-old unsteady on his feet. Given a chance to hear his story, friends agree there's no doubt he's a miracle. "He should have been dead," said Woody Wilson, of God's Community Outreach Church, Michael's pastor. On this day of Thanksgiving, Michael and his parents -- David and Lyn Barnes -- have a lot to be thankful for.
One cold day in November It all began when Michael, an eighth-grader at Southeastern, took his prized four-wheeler out for a spin on Nov. 3, 2002. The ride went tragically wrong. "The four-wheeler flipped and spun Michael around, his brain completely detached," said his mom Lyn.
Michael landed face first -- with the four-wheeler right on top. "No one thought he was going to make it to the hospital," Lyn said. Yet a fluke saved Michael's life -- one granted by God, according to Wilson. Immediately following the accident, a MedFlight helicopter was overhead, returning from another mission, Lyn said.
So when the call was made to 911, help was there. "God put that guy in his path," Wilson said. "It's almost like He orchestrated it." Healing slowly and spirituality Michael suffered severe brain damage, a closed-head injury and multiple facial and rib fractures. According to Lyn, Michael's doctor gave him a 20 percent chance of survival.
"Michael was unrecognizable," Lyn said. "His face was so swollen you couldn't even see his eyelashes." The 15-year-old spent 17 days on life support. During his coma, Michael said he witnessed a near-death experience. "I saw this bright white light," he recalled. "And I kept on hearing, 'Come here.' I said, 'No, I'm going to my mom first.' "
According to Lyn, faith played a large role in Michael's development. Lyn, who typically never went to church before the accident, found solace in Pastor Wilson, who claims God called upon him to pray for Michael. "God spoke to me and said, 'If you pray for Michael, I'll heal him,'" Wilson said. "I never had that happen to me before."
Lyn and Michael claim the events which unraveled were extraordinary. Each time Wilson came to Michael's hospital room to pray for his recovery, Michael made significant process. "It got to the point where the nurses wouldn't let me leave," Wilson laughed. "They said, 'Every time you come, he gets healed.' " A face once crushed by the weight of a four-wheeler miraculously healed on its own -- no surgery needed.
"He's a miracle," Wilson said. A new man While his balance and speech skills have not fully returned, Michael is a changed teen -- in his spiritual life and, especially, academics. Boasting the highest grade on an algebra test and a top-notch report card, the former "rebel" made a complete turnaround.
"He was on the wrong path," said Lyn, who claims Michael is the antithesis of what he was before the accident. "School is everything to him now," she said. "Before it was the girls, the guys, the fun." Michael's math teacher Mark Carroll has noticed a remarkable change in his attitude, one which now exhibits signs of academic maturity. "He raises his hand and always wants to go to the board now," he said. "He's just got a great attitude."
According to Lyn, Michael couldn't have done it without the help of his personal tutor Carol Eplin, special education coordinator for Southeastern. Eplin volunteered countless hours to help Michael. Michael had to re-learn a lot of what he used to know, said Eplin, who noted his progress is phenomenal. "We didn't expect him to do this well," she said. "He even made the honor roll.
"He's the only person whose brain injury made him smarter," she laughed. Eplin said Michael has taken a second look at life, inspiring him to be a better person. The 15-year-old admits he has a new outlook.
"Now I see what it's like to be handicapped," Michael said. "I value that I can walk."