“I don’t remember doing that,” Emt said. “My buddies were told to get me out of there pretty quick. They didn’t want bad publicity for the basketball program.”
He says now, he also drank in middle school, high school, at West Point and UConn. He was traveling about 80 mph after 1 a.m. when he went off the road and hit a bridge embankment on I-84 near Exit 66 in Vernon. The truck flipped five times, cartwheeling 75 yards before it came to rest in a ditch.
The truck was on its roof. The windows were shattered. The tires were blown out. Thrown out the back window, Emt’s clothes were torn off, he was bleeding from his nose, his mouth, his ears. That blood also would measure .12, drunken driving.
“I was found by a police officer driving on the other side of the highway when his lights shined off the chrome of my truck,” Emt said.
In emergency medicine, there’s something called the “Golden Hour.” The period after a traumatic car crash injury, when chances of preventing death with prompt treatment help exponentially.
Police estimated Emt was in the ditch 30 minutes. LifeStar took eight minutes to arrive by helicopter. He was treated at the scene for eight minutes and it took eight minutes to get him to the hospital. Do the math.
“Six minutes to live,” Emt said, “because of a stupid, stupid decision to get behind the wheel.”
Six hours of surgery followed. He was cut open from chest to navel. He broke most of his ribs. There was massive internal bleeding. His back was broken in three places. He blew out both his knees. He had a head injury. He ruptured his spleen.
Worst, he severed his spinal cord near his belly button.
Paralyzed from the waist down. Even after a quarter-century, you can stick a knife in his leg and he won’t feel it.
“Two days in a coma,” Emt said. “Two days of hell that I put my loved ones through, wondering if Steve was ever going to wake up.”
Last rites were read. Doctors wondered aloud whether he was going to make it. The family was advised to start making funeral arrangements.
Steve Emt remembers how he came out of his coma, how a dream became reality.
“I was at my old house where I grew up in Hebron,” Emt said. “It was a warm spring day, but it was rainy and misty out. I was in my bedroom and a window was open. A cloud of mist blew in and I leaned forward into it to cool myself off.
“Something grabbed me and threw me into the corner of a closet, spinning me around in a circle real fast. As I was spinning, I saw a beautiful bright skeleton of a person. Bright facial features. All of a sudden all of those lights came together to one point.”
He awoke at 6 a.m. two days after his accident. People tell him that it was his guardian angel, his father telling him to do good, to accept the consequences of his actions and to help people.
“That’s why I do this,” Emt said.
His autobiography is also a presentation of his personal recipe for making a positive pivot in life. For few have ever made a bigger one. You D.E.C.I.D.E.
“Here I was in the hospital bed rotating side to side so I don’t get pneumonia, a respirator in my mouth doing the breathing for me, my hands handcuffed to the bed so I didn’t pull it out and die,” Emt said. “I couldn’t feel my legs, but I was in so much pain that I was medicated so I couldn’t feel anything from the neck down.”
The surgeon came in, looked Emt in the eye and told him the truth: “You will never walk again.” Five words. Emt’s mom walked into the room. She was crying. One teardrop fell on Emt’s face. She told her son she loved him.
“Believe me,” he said. “I felt that tear. And that was the most profound, deep feeling I ever had in my life. Realizing what I did to my mother, not to me, and family and all these people close to me. People coming to see me. Doron Sheffer calling overseas from a pay phone. The hell I put them all through.”
He had to learn things as simple as how to make toast and put on his shoes. He said he would have been out of rehab in record time, but his nurses dropped him on the tire of his wheelchair carrying him from his bed. A bruised tailbone could have killed him. He had to lay there on his side for two days, his butt cheeks taped open to facilitate healing.
“That’s when I hit rock bottom,” he said. “That’s when I thought to myself, ‘Maybe this world is a better place without me in it. Who’s going to take care of me the rest of my life? Who’s going to feed me and bathe me? Who am I going to be a burden on?’ I thought about killing myself. I was the most negative, miserable person ever to everyone trying to help me. I was screaming at them to get out of my room, to leave me alone.”
He healed physically enough to be brought to the rehab pool. With life vest on, he was slowly lowered into it. The sweet water of redemption. Right then and there, he said, “I’m done being that negative idiot. I’m going to live my life to the fullest. I’m never going to ever give it up.”
He didn’t. Get the book. The rest of his story could change your life.