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Teen says God protected him during freak accident
By ANNA BROWN
The doctors and nurses at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center had some nicknames for Brandon Lewis after he survived a freak accident on a dirt bike in July: “Walking Miracle.” “Miracle Kid.”
“They said one more millimeter of impact and he would have been killed or it would have given him severe brain damage,” said Brandon's father, Steve. “The thickness of a penny was what separated him between life and death.”
Brandon, a 17-year-old Union County High School senior, gives God all the credit.
“I wasn't expecting to die that day,” he said. “I was expecting to have dinner with friends and have a great time. But my day could have been that day. The thing is - I know where I was going. I was going to heaven. I have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. I want people to make sure they know where they are going. Today could be their day. Something could happen they would never expect. There is always that potential.”
It was July 14 and Brandon was in the Jonesville countryside riding dirt bikes with friends, Rob Mitchell, Bradley Scott and Nixon Small.
The teen-agers went to a field track near the Mitchell property. Bradley and Brandon were going to make a lap. Both took off in the same direction. Bradley realized they were going the wrong way.
“He turned around off the track and I never saw him,” Brandon said. “At this point we are headed straight toward each other, very fast. There is a corner in the track and a tree that sits right by the corner - very big, very tall and has branches that hang over the trail - one of the only blind spots in the whole trail. That is where we hit. We hit head-on. As far as we know, I flipped over my handlebars and landed face first into his radiator. My left elbow was lying on his exhaust - that was how I got the third-degree burn on my elbow. My bike was lying on top of me. I was on top of his bike and my bike was on top of me.
Nixon and Rob ran to the crash site.
“Nixon was there first and pulled the bike off of me,” Brandon said. “Rob was there next. He pulled me out of the bike, laid me on my back and pulled my helmet off. He could tell I was choking - I was drowning in my own blood at that time. He turned me on my side so the blood could drain out of me. I don't think I would have thought of that.”
Brandon said he feels he might have died if Rob had not taken action.
They later estimated the impact of the crash was about 70 mph.
Both Brandon and Bradley were knocked unconscious. Brandon remembers nothing about the next few days.
Brandon suffered a severely broken right arm, broke both wrists, fractured a vertebrae, ribs, broke the temporal bone in his left ear - which has resulted in hearing loss - and had a skull fracture from his temple to the base of his skull. He was hemorrhaging on the brain. He had suffered a Le Forte Facture Type 3 - or trans facial fracture - basically every bone in his face was broken. Cerebral spinal fluid was leaking out of his left ear. An EMT who treated Brandon told Steve this was indicative of severe brain damage or impending death.
The radiator cap on Bradley's bike had been peeled back by the impact of Brandon's forehead. Steve said under normal conditions, the heat of the radiator should have burned Brandon's face and goggles and the hot radiator fluid should have spewed on him. His face and goggles were not gashed by the impact.
“Yet, he didn't get burned, not a drop of radiator fluid left that radiator,” Steve said. “That's nothing but the hand of God.”
Bradley's injuries included a broken tibia and torn tendons in his knee. He was told a piece of his tibia was a fingernail's length away from cutting a main artery. If it had, he would have bled to death before help arrived.
Steve was in Orlando, Fla., with Brandon's mother, Becky Lewis, when they heard about the accident through a phone call from Bradley's father. They hurried home as fast as they could, in what was initially rush hour traffic.
“God absolutely sustained us and comforted us through that journey,” Steve said. “There was a huge storm that basically parted as we got to it. Traffic moved out of the way. It was surreal. When we got to the hospital at midnight there were 20 people waiting for us to pray for us and hug us.”
Brandon's brother, Matthew, 21, was at work at Midway Barbecue when the accident occurred. Midway owner Jay Allen drove him to the hospital and waited with him until Becky and Steve arrived. In the absence of his parents, Matthew had been called on to identify Brandon in the hospital's trauma room and provided the necessary information officials needed.
Brandon was hospitalized for 11 days and had three surgeries. Steve said through it all, the family felt like God was using the number 23, Brandon's favorite number (he was born on Jan. 23), to give them signs He was in control and everything would be all right.
The night of the accident the congregation of Christian Fellowship called a prayer meeting at 7. Mike Gregory, who was in charge of the meeting, later told Steve God spoke to him and told him to wait a few minutes more in case someone was late. He did. Two more people came in. Fellow member Jean Capps texted Steve, “There were 23 people at the prayer meeting.”
The youth group at Christian Fellowship made a poster for the foot of Brandon's bed which quoted Isaiah 41:10 and was a great comfort to him. When sunlight streamed in the window it made a line under the words, “I am your God.” Isaiah is the 23rd book of the Bible, and the family felt like this was another 23 that had been revealed to them.
The night before Brandon's second surgery, Steve mediated on Psalm 23. When he woke the next morning and turned on his phone he found fellow church member Angela Fant had texted him the entire Psalm.
The night before Brandon's final surgery, Steve said he kept hearing “Numbers 23” in his head. He looked up Numbers 23:23. “There is no divination against [a] Jacob, no evil omens against [b] Israel. It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, 'See what God has done!'
“To paraphrase, when God performs a miracle, you can't say there is science or magic that did it or anything else that did it,” Steve said. “The people will say, 'Look at what God has done.' There is no explanation for Brandon surviving, for him looking like he does, for his fast recovery except, 'Look at what God has done.'”
Brandon's final surgery was on July 22. Becky is a cancer survivor and her surgery was on July 22 the prior year. Steve said the family interpreted this as God's way of saying he had taken care of Becky and he would take care of Brandon.
“It was God telling us he had Becky's number and he's got Brandon's number,” Steve said.
Jean Capps relayed a story to them that gave them more cause to reflect on what God had done.
The boys had ridden their bikes earlier that morning and had eaten lunch at Zaxby's before the accident. Jean came in for a meal as well and saw them.
“She said he just had this glow on his face,” Steve said. “He looked happy. He's always happy but she said he looked like he was having a good time. She wanted to hug him but she didn't want to embarrass him. She said his face was lit up, like lights on it.”
Jean said the glow almost took her breath away.
Becky said she feels like this was angels already surrounding Brandon, protecting him, because they knew in an hour his life would be in danger.
“One more mile an hour, a little different angle, that one millimeter is not a lot,” Steve said. “One little pitch here or there and he's gone. He's in eternity. Psalm 91 hold true, (11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways). I think God allowed Jean to see that.”
Steve said there is no doubt his son is a walking miracle.
“Every nurse and every doctor that tended to him has said the exact same thing,” he said. “They called him the 'Miracle Kid,' the 'Walking Miracle.” They said he shouldn't be here. He shouldn't be in the condition he is in now. One nurse said, 'We see his kind of injuries every day. Do you know what he should look like?'”
Looking at Brandon today, one would never know he had suffered such trauma. He started school on time with his classmates. He was crowned homecoming king during the game against Abbeville.
On a recent Sunday Brandon gave his testimony at church in front of a packed house - 260 people. Some of the nurses and paramedics who had treated him came to listen.
Brandon said his career goal is to be a bike mechanic for a professional race team.
“I just want to be around it,” he said. “I love racing and I love motorcycles and I always have.”
But for now, he wants to get the message out about God and what Jesus has done for him. He hopes more opportunities to give his testimony will be offered.
Steve said there is a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus and he's glad Brandon and Bradley know Jesus.
“What a tragedy it would have been if they had died that day knowing about Jesus but not knowing Jesus,” he said.
(Posted September 28, 2015)