Monday 21 May 2018

Irish man says God spoke to him after devastating car crash that left him with a broken neck and back

Padraic Rocliffe is now on a mission to help highlight the homeless crisis

Padraic Rocliffe is behind the Shine A Light campaign, which distributes goods to homeless people
Padraic Rocliffe is behind the Shine A Light campaign, which distributes goods to homeless people

Kathy Armstrong

A student has said that God spoke to him and filled him with "calm" after a devastating car accident that left him with a broken neck and back.

Padraic Rocliffe has said that his terrifying ordeal has given him a new perspective on life and he is determined to help others who are less fortunate.

Padraic (27) had just started his J1 in California in September 2016 when he decided to go on a weekend away with some friends to Lake Tahoe, when the life-changing crash happened.

He told Independent.ie: "It was September 2 and we were driving through a place called Death Valley, ironically enough, when we burst a tyre.

"None of us really knew how to change a tyre but after about 25 minutes a man stopped and helped us.

"Within five minutes the driver lost control of the car and the new tyre burst, the car did a rollover, it fully flipped from left to right, it happened in the blink of an eye - three of my friends managed to jump out of the car but myself and the driver didn't.

"I tried to pull myself out of the window but I couldn't and that's when I knew something was seriously wrong."
Just as the reality of what happened began to dawn on Padraic, who is from Westport in Co Mayo, he said he was contacted by God.

The University of Limerick student said: "It sounds bizarre but God spoke to me, he told me to stay in the car, he told me to put my back up against the roof and to ask the girls to get a pillow and put it behind my head.

"None of us had phone coverage so we had to wait for someone to come and go to the nearest town to call an ambulance, it took around two hours but it felt like ten minutes.

"I had no feeling in my left side and I was terrified to try to moved my neck but God spoke to me again - he said, 'I've never let you down before and I won't now.

"'You won't be paralysed but you will have a bad injury.' I felt an unbelievable sense of calm in that moment, I definitely had someone looking over me that day."

Padraic and the driver were brought by helicopter to a hospital in Las  Vegas, Padraic had sustained a broken neck, back and foot, while his friend suffered some internal bruising.

Padraic spent the next four weeks in hospital recovering and another three in a rehabilitation centre.

He said: "The support from my friends and family was unbelievable, I am so lucky.

"It was a long process but eventually I took one step, then another and another.

"It sounds cheesy but rehabilitation was the most rewarding time of my life, everyday was an achievement and I knew once I wasn't paralysed the ball was in my court - it changed my whole perspective on life."

Padraic can now walk unaided and does physical therapy twice a week but has made a remarkable recovery.

Padraic said that he had an epiphany that he wanted to help others that Christmas.

He explained: "My family had stayed with me when the accident happened but they had to return home after a while so I had to spend Christmas in the States by myself.

"I was lonely without my family and friends but I knew it was where I had to be and it's only a day.

"I was going to a diner for lunch and I asked two homeless people if I could buy them lunch so I had some company.

"It turns out they were a mother and son who had been evicted and living in the sewers, I decided I would do something for the homeless this Christmas."

The incident was the start of Padraic's Shine a Line project, he has been collecting donations such as sleeping bags, warms clothes, gloves, scarves and perishable foods at points in Dublin, Mayo and Limerick, on Sunday himself and more than fifty volunteers will distribute the supplies to homeless people.

He said: "We're going to meet at the Spire at 1pm on Sunday, we'll then split into groups of four, designate areas and give out the supplies to homeless people.

"The number of volunteers is rising all the time, we'll see how Sunday goes but if we could keep this going I would love to make this a yearly thing and to branch out to other parts of the country."

For more information about Shine A Light, please email padraicrock@gmail.com Shinealighthomelessheroes@gmail.com or visit here

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