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A Rodeo Cowboy's Fight to Survive

Freddy Vest made a living as a calf-roping rodeo entertainer, but an awkward fall from his horse left him with less than a five percent chance of survival. Read Transcript


Reporter: CHAMPIONSHIP

ROPER FREDDIE VEST LOVES THE

THRILL OF THE CHASE AND

COMPETING AGAINST HIS FELLOW

COWBOYS.

ON JULY 28, 2008, FREDDIE

WAS HEADED TO A CALF ROPING

IN GRAND, TEXAS.

HIS DAUGHTER, LEAH,

REMEMBERS SEEING HER FATHER

OFF AT THE DOOR.

WE HUGGED FOR A LONG

TIME.

I REMEMBER TURNING BACK TO

TELL HIM I LOVED HIM, AND IT

BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES.

Reporter: BUT 1:30 THAT

AFTERNOON, HE MADE THREE

SUCCESSFUL CALF RUNS.

HE WAS WAITING TO MAKE HIS

FOURTH WHEN HE SUDDENLY

DROPPED DEAD IN THE SADDLE.

HIS FRIEND, DENNIS MCKINLEY

REMEMBERS THAT DAY.

ALL OF A SUDDEN I SAW

THIS MOVEMENT OUT OF MY LEFT

EYE, AND ALMOST

SIMULTANEOUSLY, SMACK.

AND I LOOKED, AND HE WAS ON

THE GROUND.

I JUMPED OFF THE FENCE AND I

WAS THE FIRST ONE TO HIM.

I PUT MY HAND UNDER HIS HEAD

AND LIFTED IT UP AND STARTED

PRAYING FOR HIM.

Reporter: VETERAN

FIREFIGHTER EDDIE SMITH WAS

NEXT TO RESPOND.

WHILE EDDIE BEGAN C.P.R.,

DENNIS CALLED ON EVERYONE TO

PRAY.

WHEN I WAS DOING THE

C.P.R., I WAS PRAYING, BUT I

COULD HEAR PEOPLE PRAYING

ALL AROUND ME.

I'M GOING TO TELL YOU, THERE

WAS A LOT OF MEN AND A LOT

OF WOMEN THAT WERE PRAYING.

Reporter: A FELLOW

FIGHTER DON LAVENDER

CONTINUED DOING C.P.R. ON

FREDDIE FOR 45 MINUTES,

UNTIL THE AMBULANCE

ARRIVED.

THEY GOT HIM ON THE

STRETCHER AND PUT HIM IN THE

AMBULANCE.

AND THEY SHOCKED HIM.

AND EDDIE SAYS, IT DOESN'T

LOOK GOOD.

THEY WERE STRAIGHT LINING

HIM, AND THAT MEANS YOU'RE

DEAD.

WE PUT IT IN GOD'S HEADS.

Reporter: DOCTORS AT

THE HOSPITAL WERE THERE WERE

ABLE TO GET AN IRREGULAR

HEART BEAT, AND HE WAS AR

LIFT -- AIRLIFTED TO ANOTHER

HOSPITAL.

HIS WIFE AND SON WERE IN

ANOTHER CITY WHEN THEY HEARD

THE NEWS.

EDDIE'S WIFE CALLED AND

SAID THERE WAS AN ACCIDENT

DURING THE ROPING AND SHE

DIDN'T KNOW ALL OF THE

DETAILS.

SHE TOLD ME THAT FREDDIE

FELL OFF HIS HORSE AND I

NEEDED TO GET TO THE

HOSPITAL.

I TRIED TO GET THERE AS FAST

AS I COULD.

I FELT LIKE THERE WAS

NOTHING I COULD DO.

IT WAS JUST TAKING FOREVER.

Reporter: FREDDIE'S

LOVED ONES HELD VIGIL AS HE

WAS RUSHED INTO SURGERY.

DOCTORS TOLD THE FAMILY THEY

WERE ABLE TO REPAIR HIS

HEART, BUT THEY DIDN'T KNOW

WHAT TO EXPECT LONG-TERM.

THE DOCTOR SPOKE WITH THEM

ABOUT FREDDIE'S CHANCE OF

SURVIVAL.

OF ALL OF THE CARDIAC

ARRESTS, ONLY ABOUT 9% WILL

SURVIVE.

EVERY MINUTE THAT PASSES

WITHOUT THE RESTORATION OF

BLOOD FLOW, YOUR MORTALITY

GOES UP 10%.

THE BRAIN, YOU'VE GOT MAYBE

FIVE, SIX, SEVEN -- IF

YOU'RE LUCKY, 10 MINUTES TO

GET THINGS GOING.

I ACTUALLY WAS CONCERNED HE

WAS GOING TO HAVE BRAIN

DAMAGE.

Reporter: ALL THEY

COULD DO WAS WAIT.

I WOULD GO WHEREVER I

COULD TO GET ALONE, AND

THAT'S WHERE I WOULD PRAY.

Reporter: WHILE HIS

RELATIVES AND FRIENDS WERE

PRAYING AT THE HOSPITAL,

FREDDIE SAYS HE WAS

SOMEWHERE ELSE.

THERE IS A BIBLE VERSE

SAYS "ABSENT FROM THE BODY

IS PRESENT WITH THE LORD."

AND WHEN I FELL OFF THAT

HORSE, I WAS DEAD BEFORE I

HIT THE GROUND.

I WAS WITH THE LORD.

AND HE DIDN'T ALLOW ME TO

SEE WHAT HEAVEN WAS LIKE,

BUT HE LET ME EXPERIENCE

WHAT IT FELT LIKE TO BE IN

HEAVEN.

HE SHOWED ME THE LOVE THAT'S

THERE.

AND THERE IS MORE LOVE THAN

YOU CAN IMAGINE.

THE FEELING OF HOW MUCH LOVE

IT IS IS INCREDIBLE.

AND THE PEACE THAT YOU

HAVE -- IT'S A PERFECT

PEACE.

THE ONLY THING I CAN RELATE

IT TO IS WHERE I WAS YOUNG,

I WOULD CRAWL UP IN MY

MOTHER'S LAP, AND SHE WOULD

CRADLE ME AND HOLD ME AND

ROCK ME.

AND THAT WAS THE MOST

PEACEFUL, SAFE, LOVING

PLACE.

AND THAT FEELING -- YOU

COULD MULTIPLY IT BY A

THOUSAND, AND YOU WOULDN'T

BE CLOSE TO WHAT IT REALLY

FEELS LIKE WHEN YOU'RE THERE

WITH THE LORD.

I TELL SOME OF MY BUDDIES,

THERE IS NO "I'VE GOT TO DO"

IN HEAVEN.

THERE WAS NOT A FEELING OF

TIME.

THERE WAS NO TIME TO WORRY

ABOUT, LIKE I NEED TO GO DO

THIS.

I SHOULD BE DOING THIS.

THERE WAS NOTHING LIKE

THAT.

Reporter: FREDDIE ALSO

REMEMBERS HAVING

CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD.

WHEN I WAS THERE, THERE

WAS COMMUNICATION, BUT IT

WASN'T COMMUNICATION LIKE

WORDS.

THE COMMUNECATION WAS INSIDE

OF ME.

IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS

VERBALLY, OR THAT YOU WOULD

HAVE EARS TO HEAR OR A MOUTH

TO SPEAK IT.

IT WAS WHEN GOD TELLS YOU

SOMETHING, YOU CAN -- YOU

KNOW IT'S HIM.

HE ALLOWED ME TO SEE THE

PRAYERS THAT CAME UP FOR

ME.

AND IT STARTED WITH ONE BOLT

OF LIGHT, AND THEN THERE WAS

TWO BOLTS OF LIGHT, AND

THREE AND THEN THERE WAS 10

AND, LIKE, HUNDREDS OF BOLTS

OF LIGHT.

EACH ONE OF THOSE BOLTS OF

LIGHT WAS A PRAYER THAT

SOMEONE THAT SENT UP FOR

ME.

WHEN THERE GOT TO BE SO MANY

BOLTS OF LIGHT, IT EXPLODED

INTO THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT.

AND I DON'T KNOW HOW TO

EXPLAIN IT.

IT WAS JUST A VERY, VERY

BRIGHT LIGHT.

THAT'S WHEN GOD SENT ME

BACK.

AND WHEN I CAME BACK FROM

THAT, I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL

BED, AND THEY HAD MY ARMS

TIED DOWN.

I WAS ON LIFE SUPPORT.

THEY HAD A TUBE DOWN MY

THROAT.

THEY HAD AN I.V. IN MY HAND,

AND ONE IN MY NECK.

AND WHEN I CAME TO, I TRIED

TO STRUGGLE AND GET UP.

THE NURSE THERE SAID,

MR. BEST, YOU'RE OKAY.

AND I JUST LOOKED AT HER AND

I SAID OKAY?

YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE I'VE

BEEN.

THIS DOESN'T COMPARE TO

OKAY.

Reporter: FREDDIE MADE

A FULL RECOVERY, BUT HE

STILL QUESTIONED WHAT HE'D

EXPERIENCED.

FOR A WHILE, I THOUGHT,

WELL, I'VE GOT TO DO

SOMETHING AND MAKE SOMETHING

HAPPEN FOR THE LORD.

HE SENT ME BACK FOR A

PURPOSE.

I NEED TO GO BACK SOMETHING

HAPPEN.

THAT WASN'T IT.

FOR SEVERAL MONTHS I PRAYED

EVERY MORNING WHY.

AND SO HE TOOK ME TO

JEREMIAH AND SHOWED ME A

VERSE THERE.

AND THE VERSE SIMPLY SAYS

"YOU WILL GO TO WHOM I SENT

YOU TO, AND YOU WILL SAY

WHAT I HAVE YOU TO SAY."

AND I'M A SIMPLE PERSON, BUT

I UNDERSTOOD THAT.

AND THAT'S MY PURPOSE.

I DON'T TRY TO MAKE THINGS

HAPPEN NOW.

I WAIT FOR THE DAY.

AND WHEN HE TAKES ME TO

SOMEONE, I SAY WHAT HE HAS

ME TO SAY.

Reporter: TODAY FREDDIE

AND HIS FAMILY SAVOR THEIR

TIME TOGETHER.

ALTHOUGH FREDDIE SAYS HE

STILL ANTICIPATES RETURNING

TO THE PLACE HE CALLS HOME.

HEAVEN IS REAL.

HE IS A REAL PERSON.

I LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY I

WILL GET TO BE THERE.

BUT I'M NOT PUSHING IT.

AT FIRST, WHEN I CAME BACK,

I WAS READY TO GO THE NEXT

DAY.

BUT I LOVE MY FAMILY.

I LOVE MY KIDS.

I LOVE MY WIFE.

I'LL STAY AS LONG AS HE

ALLOWS ME TO STAY.

BUT WHEN I DO GO, THEY DON'T

HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ME.

DYING IS EASY; LIVING IS

HARD.

THERE IS SOMEONE OUT THERE

THAT NEEDS TO KNOW THAT

HEAVEN IS A REAL PLACE.

GOD IS A REAL PERSON.

AND WHEN YOU TAKE THAT LAST

BREATH, IF YOU'RE A

CHRISTIAN, YOU'RE GOING TO

MEET HIM.

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