For Jaroslav Náhlík, the last holiday day of 2001 was a turning point. „Long before that, my friends and I had agreed to go to a disco that day. We worked in the concrete shop all the holidays to save money. We wanted to enjoy a great day,“ says Jaroslav. It was arranged that his then-girlfriend’s mother would take the whole group of friends to the disco. „But at the last minute, she said she couldn’t. It was just the day of the disco. My then-girlfriend got a replacement ride. The driver was arrogant. We knew about him, and we didn’t like him,“ recalls Jaroslav. But they were looking forward to the disco all their holidays; they didn’t want the plan to fail. And so, they nodded to the replacement solution.
„We left Nová Ves at eight o’clock and crashed at eight-fifteen, about four kilometers from the village. I was looking out the window at the time. I didn’t pay any attention to what was going on in the car. Suddenly, in the corner, a friend next to me yelled: „watch out, there is a sharp turn!“ That’s when I started paying attention, but it was too late. I didn’t have time to lean in any way,“ explains Jaroslav. The car Škoda 120 drove at high speed, and the car blew up. „A right-hand turn followed, so the driver turned the wheels to the right in the air. When we hit the road, it blew us up in the right ditch where we broke the apple tree. It threw us into the left ditch, where we broke another tree and rolled for the next seventy meters,“ says Jaroslav. The old Škoda was missing seat belts; the passengers were not fastened.
„When a car turns around, you feel like a rag in a washing machine. My friends got caught. I broke my head during the first turn by the driver’s seat belt. There was this plastic cap missing, and the screw made a hole in my skull. Moments later, I flew out through an open window and smashed my back against the roof,“ he says. He landed next to the damaged car, which, fortunately, had just stopped rolling. The list of his injuries of the car accident is long. In addition to the fractured skull, he had broken four ribs and two vertebrae, a ruptured spleen, a torn eyelid, and part of his ear. „At first, I didn’t feel any pain. I sat down; my friends came to me. My girlfriend told me my face was torn and my blood was running so bad. I reached for the wound and found myself sticking two fingers in the hole in my head. That was a big shock. I experienced another one when I wanted to stand up, and I couldn’t,“ says Jaroslav. My friends called an ambulance; she arrived in about half an hour. A helicopter couldn’t land at the scene of the accident. „Nothing still hurts me yet. There are various shiny moldings in the ambulance, and I tried to catch a glimpse of my face in some of them. But I didn’t see anything.“
„When we arrived in Brno, the original shock began to subside, and I felt a terrible pain in my back. When they pulled me out of the ambulance and two doctors came to see me. They saw a hole in my head, a lot of blood everywhere. One of them said, „I don’t think the young man can survive.“ That was another shock,“ he recalls. Because of his concussion, doctors couldn’t give Jaroslav anesthesia. So, when they sutured his ear and eyelid, he felt everything. As soon as the shock subsided, two surgeries followed. In one, doctors fixed the fractured vertebrae with two iron plates.
In the second, they performed surgery from the left side between the ribs, so that they did not have to operate the spine through the chest. „My left lung must have collapsed. I woke up after surgery in the intensive care unit on 11. September, the day the terrorists dropped the Twin Towers. My head was wrapped in a bandage, two tubes sticking out of me, scars everywhere,“ he recounts feelings after the anesthesia. A significant moment for Jaroslav that day was a visit to the family. „I’ve seen my dad cry, which I’ve never seen before. Next to him, mom and sister, both looked close to tears. That’s when I decided to start working on myself. If I’m as self-sufficient as possible, it will help them.“ At the time, he believed that everything would be good again because, according to doctors, the spinal cord was not broken. In the end, it turned out that Jaroslav had severe spinal cord oppression, and as a result, both lower limbs were paralyzed.
He made another crucial decision at the rehabilitation institute. „I’ve been fighting with myself a little bit, which is to blame for it? No one. Then I saw this guy, a biker. He drove into a bend where the road was being repaired. There was a warning before and after the turn, but he ignored it, and at high speed, his bike slipped on the gravel. He blamed everyone around him, didn’t admit it was his fault. I figured I wouldn’t even hang out with people like that. I didn’t blame myself or others. It just happened.“
After finishing his stay in a rehabilitation institution, Jaroslav had to change the school. Until then, he was studying as a mechanic. Once it became clear that he was going to be in a wheelchair, he couldn’t continue his profession. He chose another high school. „Then I met people from Fenix. First part-time, then full-time.“ He works as a logistician, draws up schedules of exercises and rides, works as a fitness instructor, and a self-sufficiency instructor. He passes on experience to other people with the same fate and tries to get them to rely as much as possible on themselves. „Self-pity achieves nothing, everyone has to look forward, try and work,“ he says. In Fenix, he met his current wife, Kristýna, a leading physiotherapist. He says he wouldn’t change anything about his life.
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