VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A simple car ride changed a man’s life forever when a crash left him paralyzed from the neck down.
But his friends rallied around him so he could still do the thing he loves: go hunting.
When Jesse Michael was 24 years old, if you didn’t find him out fishing, he was probably gearing up to go hunting with his friends.
“Hunting was definitely my passion, anything with the outdoors,” he said.
But his life was put on hold when he and his friends were hit from behind by a semi-truck in 2017.
“I remember the first flip and then I woke up with my face down and couldn’t breathe because of all the debris on me,” he said.
Jesse had the most severe injuries of the group.
“I broke my neck and the C4 C5 level and I was deemed an incomplete quadriplegic. Then, I had other secondary injuries. I had a cracked rib, I had a collapsed lung, those kind of fixed themselves. [Now I have] severe depression, anxiety anytime I’m in a car,” he said.
For the past four years, he was left thinking he’d never shoot another rifle.
“Knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to run or walk or do anything really, I was scared about me not being happy in life anymore,” said Michael.
This past weekend, that all changed when the Wheelin’ Sportsmen Piedmont Chapter and his friend took him out to shoot his first deer.
“The first time when it actually went off and actually happened, my heart was pounding so much, I was grinning from ear to ear,” he said.
A fundraiser put on by one of his high school friends gifted him a specialized contraption giving him the ability to not only shoot again, but to feel again.
“It was more exhilarating mainly because I didn’t think that I would ever be at this point in my life,” he said.
He’s able to use the device by moving of his head and blowing into a straw.
It’s a new trick for him, but at the shooting range, he hasn’t missed a beat. He hit three shots right outside the bullseye.
“It makes it a little easier, I think I have a little leg up on some people because I actually have a steady rest,” he joked.
He has a new lease on life and hopes his story can inspire others to never give up.
“The accident very easily could have taken my life and I always reflect back and thank God for giving me a second chance at life,” he said.
Michael said he is taking advantage of the life he is living and in between hunting trips is thinking about going to law school.
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