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Gun Show Accident Triggers Miraculous Recovery

Randy Rudder - 700 Club Producer

“My phone rang, and it was Cody on the line, and I answered it and there was no response from him, so I thought, it just was an accidental dial,” father Chris recalls. “And then I heard squeaking of tennis shoes, and I heard the dog barking, and I heard Christian screaming, our third son.”

On March 19, 2016, three brothers-- Christian, Conner, and Cody--were spending the day at the family lake house in Cicero, Indiana, preparing for a gun show.  Chris says, “I turned to Cheryl and I said, ‘Something dire has happened, something tragic.’"

Something dire had happened. That day, Cody was cleaning his 9 mm pistol when a round discharged, striking Conner. Mom Cheryl remembers, “Our son Christian called and had said that Conner had been shot in the face and they were going to take him to the hospital. We called our pastor. I called my mom. We just said, ‘Get on prayer, there's been an accident.’"

After the two brothers finally loaded Conner with his 6’2, 220-pound frame into their Jeep, they headed straight for the local fire station.  

“I knew the first thing that we needed to do was get him out of the backseat of the Jeep and get him laying flat. I would say he was, at that point, in critical condition. Of course, I had no way of knowing that it hit his carotid artery,” Cicero, Indiana Battalion Chief Darren Collars says.

Chief Collar did know that time was not on their side. “When his mental status started to deteriorate, I decided to do a procedure called RSI, which is Rapid Sequence Intubation. It's where we give them a medication that basically paralyzes them and they lose the ability to breathe. And at that point we have to insert a ET tube and breathe for him.”

Conner was then life-flighted to St. Vincent hospital in Indianapolis. “I paused a minute and I said, ‘Honey, we've got to be ready to let Bubby – Conner's nickname – go if Jesus is taking him home today,’" Cheryl recalls.  

Darren Collar adds “In my twenty years of being in the fire service, I've responded to a handful of gunshot wounds, and none of them has survived.”

“When we were driving there, the Holy Spirit came upon me as I asked for Him to, and I started praying in tongues, which I had never done before, but I know the Bible says that ‘in a time of need, when there's no earthly prayer, that I'll pray on your behalf,’ and I had such a peace,” Cheryl adds.

The family arrived at the hospital, not knowing what to expect.  “They were in there trying to get Conner stable. And when we walked in, right before, I just said, you know, ‘Lord Jesus, I just need you. Give me strength.’”

“When we first saw him in the Emergency Room, he hadn’t been cleaned up. He was still in shock. And the shaking or the tremors that he was having started to worry me.”

Conner was taken to ICU, in critical but stable condition. “I was so joyful that he was still alive,” Cheryl says, “and I was just kissing his bloody face and just thanking the Lord, and just touching his body head-to-toe, and just praying over him and speaking life like the Lord says. And one of the – my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you, give you peace and prosperity and not harm you. In this huge hospital of, I'm not sure how many thousands of rooms, his room number in ICU was 2911.”

The family continued to ask for prayer from friends and family. Many of them showed up at the hospital throughout the night.  “The waiting room was surrounded with the love of our friends and family,” Cheryl says. “And the next morning, a nurse came in and said, ‘Excuse me, sir,’ to Chris, who was sleeping on a little ottoman, ‘You can't have all these people here.’”

Conner began to stabilize but doctors were still concerned about the bullet, which had lodged in his neck less than a centimeter from his spinal cord. “My thoughts are, ‘Could it move? Is he able to go on roller coasters and-alive life, to the fullest?’” Cheryl says. “What can he or can’t he do? And they can’t say.”

Doctors decided they would rather leave the bullet where it was than risk doing surgery and hitting the spinal cord. Conner then began a rigorous rehabilitation program. “A lot of therapy. A lot of pain. And he said it was harder than any football injury he'd ever gone through,” Cheryl adds.  

Then on Easter morning, 2016, Conner took his first steps. “The room was just full of energy and buzzing with talk and encouraging words as he actually stood up,” Chris says.

“I loved the Lord so much beforehand and I told Him that as I'd go to the restroom in the middle of the night in the quiet of the hospital and just dance to the Lord and praise Him, how good He was,” Cheryl adds.

Over the next year, Conner made a remarkable recovery. Conner says, “The neurosurgeon said, ‘That boy is more than likely going to be a vegetable the rest of his life. And so I would like to go back there and visit that neurosurgeon and shake his hand and tell him, ‘Good things can happen with God on your side.’”

Then one day, he felt something strange on his neck. he went to the hospital to have a nurse examine it.

Conner recalls, “She said, ‘Well, it looks like the bullet is working its way out. The body has a way of expelling things that don't belong in it.’ And so I thought, ‘How am I supposed to deal with this, a bullet coming out of my neck this slowly?’”

The bullet eventually came out on its own, and Conner made a ring from it to help him remember God’s goodness.

“You know, we all have a story to share. Each and every one of us can share what God is doing in our lives, the power of the name of Jesus, and answered prayer, miracles still happen, and God loves each and every one of us,” Cheryl says.

Conner adds, “If I can get shot through the head, in the face and neck, and come out of it completely healed, then you know that there is a God, and you know that He can be on your side. With determination and God on your side, there’s absolutely nothing that you can’t overcome.”

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