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Briargate Couple Finds Renewed Hope, Faith After Accident

I'm very proud to have been able to help this couple.  Stephanie and David, thank you so much for allowing me to assist you.

- Greg Luczak, the Platinum Group Realtors


Briargate couple finds renewed hope, faith after accident

By: Susan Joy Paul

December 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm


David Sheffield was facedown in the middle of the road on Ute Pass. His motorcycle helmet held his head a few inches above the pavement, high enough for his peripheral vision to pick out the nurses huddled around him in blue scrubs.

“What hospital do you want to go to?” one of them asked.

“Penrose,” he said. For Sheffield, the next couple of weeks were a blur.

“I have vague memories because I was in a drug-induced coma for about 10 days. I had a lot of hallucinations and some moments where I knew what was going on,” he said. “In those first 24-48 hours they didn’t think I was going to make it, but I made it that night and the next day and here we are.”

Once out of the coma, Sheffield found out he had 17 broken bones, a punctured lung and had suffered a heart attack either before or after the accident — the doctors weren’t sure.

“They gave me an angioplasty to open my artery and remove a blood clot. I had an infection due to the punctured lung so I had to wait two weeks to be stable enough for them to do the surgery on my back,” he said.Sheffield didn’t know what to expect from the surgery and was anxious to find out.While he waited in the ICU for his back surgery, Sheffield’s fiancee, Stephanie Rhodes, spoke with his surgeon about possible outcomes.


“We knew that he might be paralyzed, and not knowing how he’d react if that happened was the worst part for me,” Rhodes said. “Was he going to push me away? That was tough.”They got their answers two weeks later.“Stephanie and I were together when the doctor told us that I had a complete injury,” Sheffield said, “which means that my nerves and spinal cord were severed and I’d never walk again.”Sheffield’s spine was broken at T11, the second-to-lowest of 12 bones that make up the thoracic vertebrae, the middle section of the backbone between the cervical and lumbar vertebrae.

“We both got emotional at that moment, but since then, I’ve come to grips with it,” he said.Rhodes said her fiance’s Marine brothers assured her he’d pull through.

“They said, ‘David’s a Marine, he’s strong and he’ll get through this.’ They were right,” she said, “and now he’s my inspiration.”

Sheffield recalled the day of the accident.“It was Oct. 14, a Friday, and me and the guys at work figured it would be the last 80-degree Friday for a long time, so we rode our bikes to work,” he said.

David, his son Sam Sheffield, and a co-worker decided to ride to Crystola for lunch.

“We were heading up Highway 24, and my son and a colleague were ahead of me. I got caught in heavy traffic and hit some gravel.” David went off the road and into the mountainside. “It was like hitting concrete,” he said, “and then I went flying through the air. I came down in the middle of the road and the bike came down on top of me. I could move my eyes left and right, and it just so happened that some nurses came along. They were asking me all kinds of questions and telling me not to move. I could tell right off the bat that there was something wrong because I couldn’t move anything.”
Those nurses were the first in a series of events David believes were more than lucky coincidences.“There have been a lot of miracles in the last eight weeks, and there are no other words for it. There’s no way there could be that many coincidences,” he said.Rhodes got to work preparing for David’s homecoming.“The house that we’re living in is a rental, and it was impossible to make it wheelchair-accessible, so I had to look for a new place,” she said. “We decided to purchase one together, and my awesome Realtor helped find us a house in a matter of two and a half weeks.”

The house is ADA compliant, so the couple won’t have to spend an excessive amount to accommodate David’s wheelchair. His employer, CEA Medical Manufacturing, is setting up a home office for him in the new house to allow him to work remotely as he transitions back into the office.“I can’t imagine a company that could do more for me than my company has,” David said. “They’ve had fundraisers and taken care of my insurance, and my friends there are helping out with everything from getting us a moving van to building a ramp. The outpouring of kindness, prayers and generosity from friends, family, co-workers and people I don’t even know has been overwhelming.”

David’s to-do list is short now, but will take some serious work.

“My first priority is getting out of here,” he said with a laugh from his hospital room. “I’ve been in this hospital for eight weeks, and so my goal is to get healthy so I can go home. I’ll be in home health care and then in outpatient therapy, and during that time I’ll take a course to learn how to drive a car. I’m hoping to get one in the next two months and become independent again. My ultimate long-term goal is to become completely independent, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be, but right now I still have injuries that I’m trying to heal from.”In addition to physical therapy and learning new skills to regain his independence, David knows there will be a lot of expenses coming his way.

“This isn’t something that I can overcome in six months,” he said. “It’s going to be a way of life and there will be expenses associated with it for the rest of my life. We don’t even know what those are yet, so we’re trying to plan for the unknown.”

His family is fundraising at at to raise money that will help offset medical bills, pay for a car adapted for paraplegics and whatever else he needs to become self-sufficient.Despite the challenges, David’s outlook is bright, and he offered this advice for anyone who’s suffering this time of year: “Look for help close to home. I’ve gotten so much support from my friends and family, and this whole ordeal has given me a lot more hope in people. I’ve always been somewhat of a skeptic and thought people were inherently bad, and that they really had to work hard to be good, but the acts of kindness people have shown for me have renewed my spirit for the Lord. I’ve been a Christian for a long time but really haven’t been walking the walk, but the past eight weeks have inspired me to be a better believer. Live life to the fullest and don’t take anything for granted — especially your family.”Rhodes agreed. “It’s easy to lose sight of what’s truly important, especially this time of year with the hustle and bustle of Christmas,” she said, “but live each day like it’s your last and be thankful for what you have because it can be taken away from you in a heartbeat.