Brian Boyle had worked hard to become a nationally ranked star athlete on his high school track and field, basketball, and swim teams. And with a scholarship to continue his education at a nearby college, his future was looking bright.
After graduating from high school, swimming had become his main passion and he practiced nightly at his local pool. So one night, after stopping at a stop sign in a four-way intersection on his way home, Brian continued into the intersection.
But he never saw the dump-truck speeding towards him at 60 mph — 30 mph over the limit — that blew straight through the stop sign. Emergency responders arrived on the scene to find Brian’s completely crushed 1994 Chevy Camero with him trapped inside.
The truck driver — who had been in court just two weeks before for multiple speeding tickets — sat beside him, both him and the dump truck completely intact.
But Brian was thrown across his car upon impact, his heart knocked to the other side of his chest and his lungs were crumpled.
His legs were left crushed under the steering wheel, and his seat belt broke his clavicle and shattered his pelvis. Just about every bone in his body had broken and every major organ was severely damaged.
He was removed from the car using the Jaws of Life and immediately airlifted to a hospital. But staff were informed that he was Alpha Stat, a patient they did not expect to survive the flight.
When they touched down, Brian had already lost over 60 percent of his blood. Doctors called Brian’s parents Garth and Joanne as he was put into a medically induced coma. They began operating to save his organs before resetting any bones.
When they arrived, the head nurse began asking Brian’s parents questions. “But at the end,” Garth, said, “she asked us, ‘Is Brian your only child?’ When [Joanne] said yes, I looked over and the nurse was tearing up. That’s when I knew we were in trouble.”
For over two months, they couldn’t bear to watch their son suffer. And when he finally came out of the coma, he was entirely paralyzed.
Even though he was awake, his future remained uncertain. He frequently went into cardiac arrest and even died on the operating table eight times.
Brian, fully conscious but still paralyzed, began praying to God to end his suffering. He did not want to live as an athlete “paralyzed in a bed of hospital tubes.”
But his parents never gave up on him. They begged him to keep fighting, his dad getting on his hands and knees in prayer to confess what his son truly meant to him.
“Please, please don’t give up,” Garth pleaded. “Your mother and I will not survive if you don’t do this. You have to keep trying.”
Brian knew he had to fight for his parents. He focused on their love for him as he focused all of his energy on a single smile. His body went into convulsions after two attempts at a smile. But on his third attempt, a miraculous smile appeared.
Over the next four months, Brian had his doctors and parents in tears as he began to speak again, and told his mom he loved her. And after 36 blood transfusions, 13 plasma treatments, and 14 major operations, Brian was released from the hospital.
He had physical therapy three times a week, and began to learn how to live again — starting from square one.
“My body was so weak, and I literally had no muscles,” Brian said. “When I tried to take a step, it felt like a thousand pins pushing into my entire body. The pain was excruciating — worse than the accident itself.”
But Brian only continued to improve. He was inspired to try swimming again and practiced daily once he was strong enough. He also planned to start college in the fall.
And that fall, he went off to school, joined the swim team, and starting bodybuilding. But he didn’t stop there. His ultimate goal since his childhood was to compete in the Ironman World Championships.
He wrote to the race officials and told them his story, hoping to join the competition 5-10 years down the road.
But they immediately wrote back, asking him if he’d compete as a media-slot. They first asked him to compete in the half-Ironman to “prove he could handle” the world championship.
After getting approval from his doctors, Brian had just four days before the grueling half-triathlon. But he finished in 7.5 hours. And with almost no training or experience, Brian had managed to qualify for the world championships.
Brian continues to work to improve his athletic abilities, and has since qualified for the same race on his own.
Since his accident, Brian has also written a book about his journey, “Back From The Dead.” And now, when he isn’t working on training, Brian works as a personal trainer in his spare time.
“Growing up, he was always ‘One more time, Dad, one more throw,’ when we played ball in the yard,” his dad later said.
“They told me Brian was critical, he’d been in an accident, and I started screaming ‘No, no,’ falling on my knees. I was devastated.
“But I then started thinking, ‘One more time, Brian. Please. Just one more time.'”
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