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What Really Happened

Dreamed early 1993 by a Coon Rapids newlywed, as reported by Janis Amatuzio.

Many years of practicing forensic pathology have brought me into many different situations. Usually, I can draw on my education and training to handle them. There have been some situations, however, for which I was never truly prepared, and I was left with the thought, "'What really happened here, anyway?" The following incident happened while I was practicing forensic pathology in Anoka County, Minnesota, after being appointed coroner in 1993.

Early one winter morning, police officers in my jurisdiction discovered the tracks of a car leading off the roadway, which they followed to find a vehicle overturned into a frozen creek bed. It was 4:45 in the morning, the engine was still running, and the driver was slumped over the wheel with obvious head injuries. Paramedics rushed to the scene and transported the victim, later identified as a twenty-six-year-old, recently married man, to the ER.

The head injuries were extensive, and despite all resuscitative efforts, the man was declared brain dead several hours later. He had been identified through his Minnesota driver's license, and his wife, as legal next of kin, was notified. She rushed to the emergency department to see her husband and never left his side during the following desperate hours as it became apparent that he had suffered irreparable brain injuries and would not survive...

[They struggle to save him. Then come issues of autopsy and organ donation. But then the hospital chaplain visits Amatuzio...]

"I think we had better go back to your office," he said. "You're not going to believe this." The hospital chaplain was a tall, wonderfully pleasant man with a big heart and gentle eyes. He always chose his words carefully and was known for his kindness and compassion. As I unlocked my office door, he asked, "Do you know how the body of this young man was found?"

"Yes," I said, "by the Coon Rapids Police Department in a frozen creek bed at about 4:45 A.M."

"No," he said. "Do you know how they really found him?"

"Tell me," I said.

"I spoke with his young wife, who was in the ER with her mother. She said they had just recently been married. He was working an overtime shift to make extra money as a down payment for their house. But then she said something that really stopped me."

"What?" I asked as he paused.

"She told me that she had a dream while she was asleep that night, a profound dream, in which her husband was standing by her bedside apologizing, telling her that he loved her and that he had been in an accident. His vehicle was in a ditch where it couldn't be seen from the road. She abruptly awoke and realized it was 4:20 in the morning. She called 911 and with absolute certainty told the dispatcher her husband was in an accident not far from their home and that his car was in a ravine where he could not be seen from the road. His body was discovered by officers less than twenty minutes later."

I felt a chill go down my back. "Let me call the police," I said as I reached for the phone. The desk sergeant on dury confirmed with his dispatch the time of the wife's call and its content.

"That is amazing!" I said to the chaplain. "Did she say anything else?"

"No," he said thoughtfully, Iooking down, "except one thing. She told me that it didn't really seem to be a dream. She said he was really standing there, next to her bed."

I completed the postmortem examination the following day after the family generously donated the young man's heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, and eyes. The death was classified as an accident and attributed to blunt-force head injuries. I was never able to speak personally with his wife since she was too overcome by her grief and her family had circled protectively around her.

As I pondered my conversation with the chaplain, I also reflected on the advice I had from Cal Bandt and that I now so often pass on: gather information, make observations, and most importantly, don't rush to judgment; trust that you will arrive at the truth.

There was no doubt in my heart that our conversation, shared that late afternoon in my ofifice, felt like the truth about what really happened. But it was not something that could be proved as a medical certainty. It was simply there, and its presence seemed more a gentle reminder than a challenge.

--Janis Amatuzio


Even thirdhand it's hard to dismiss this dream as coincidence. In a lifetime of dreamwork I've never had one that drove me to call the police. Have you? And it wasn't just uniquely compelling. Effective, too. Had his injuries been less severe, her dream could have saved him. Whatever ESP is, it can be practical as a cellphone!

If you do accept this dream as psychic, you can still argue it isn't unshakable evidence of a soul or spirit. Once we allow ESP at all, the wife could have unconsciously sensed her husband's accident on her own, and presented that warning to her conscious mind via a dream figure, her husband. On the other hand, his behavior is not that of a mere alarm bell or mouthpiece--he seems apologetic (for abandoning her?), and tells her he loves her. This mix of distress call and deathbed farewells--just in case?--are consistent with a character, a practical Midwestern man who's unsure himself if he's dead or alive--just knows it's bad!

This is the most intriguing point. If you accept our dream-ghost as real, he's the ghost of a living man--well, sort of living! Yet with his brain fatally injured, it get nearly as hard to claim his awareness is brain-generated as it would be if he were dead. There are operating-theater cases where the brain flatlines yet the resuscitated patient reports floating over the operation and seeing verifiable details; still, those are passive witnesses. Here, our brain-dead spook takes initiative, actively summons rescuers--just in case he's revivable!

Not for him the tunnel of light full of welcoming loved ones. He was a newlywed; HIS loved one was still alive, and he went straight to her, warned her what was up, and did his best to stay.

--Chris Wayan

From Beyond Knowing by Janis Amatuzio, 2006, New World Library, pp. 81-85.

LISTS AND LINKS: overwork - snow and ice - on the road - crashes - heads and brains - dream warnings & advice - rescues - healthcare - death - revenants and ghosts - love - telepathy? - psychic dreams in general - Minnesota - two more from Janis Amatuzio: Greg's Gift and Joyous Ride -- more ghosts of the living: Pat's Warning, Don't Do That, Marion!, Remarkable, We Go In Peace - more lifesaving dreams: Chandelier, The Creek, Diphtheria Speck, Mom on the Wing, Pete, Rosemary and Francis, Tin Fish

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