Location: North Little Rock, Arkansas
Date: October 26, 1991
On October 26th, 1991, Joey Biggs wanted to do something special for his 27th birthday. So he invited his close friends, Pooh Bear Winchester, Steve Roberts, and Kevin Wood, to go kneeboarding in the lake near their home in North Little Rock, Arkansas. As Joey, Steve, and Pooh Bear kneeboarded on their boards tethered to the boat driven by Kevin, they planned to go to the birthday party that Joey planned to go to later that night.
"It's a lot of fun. Jumping the lake, just trying to do different tricks and stuff." Steve, the most experienced kneeboarder of the four friends, stated. "You can get what you can call a slingshot, jump outside the wave, and you automatically double the speed of what the boat is doing. If it's doing 25, you're doing 50. It can be very dangerous," Pooh Bear stated.
As it was getting late and the friends were ready to go to the party, Joey said they would do one more lap and call it a day. As Joey, who was not as experienced as Steve was with the kneeboard, was doing the slingshot move. As Kevin turned the corner, Joey lost his grip on the line. Then he slid and hit a tree on the bank. Then he became airborne above the water and collided into a second tree, badly injuring him, and went down in the lake.
As Kevin and Pooh Bear were driving to where Joey was lying facedown in the water, Steve swam to him, calling out his name, but got no response. Although Steve knew he wasn't suppose to move an injured patient, he had to get Joey's face out of the water. As Kevin called for help on his cellular phone, Pooh Bear and Steve tried to help Joey, who was not breathing and had swelling in his neck, arms, and legs, which doubled in size within two minutes.
As Pooh Bear pressed on Joey's jaws, he just shot water out of his nose and mouth. Then he went to goggle. Joey didn't realize how badly he was busted up and remembered he had a birthday party to go to. Then when he saw his arms, he went hysterical. "We shouldn't been trying to steer so close to the bank. We knew better and that the lake was dangerous, but we didn't even think nothing would ever happen, especially not that quick and dangerous," Kevin admitted.
Within five minutes, a Metropolitan EMS unit arrived on the scene. Paramedic Jeff Pace was shocked that he had never seen so many broken bones. He was worried about Joey having head injuries and neck and back fractures. Pace knew that, despite not saving a drop of blood on him, knew Joey had a lot of internal bleeding.
As the paramedics prepped him for transport, Joey was screaming in pain as his friends stood by. "I know him like a brother and he knows me like a brother. You have just to see one of your best friends scream bloody murder. It's...it's hard on you. You know?" Pooh Bear sadly stated as he was best friends with Joey for 14 years.
Joey was taken to University of Arkansas Medical Center, where Dr. Lon Visser examined him. He and the others were trouble to keep his blood pressure up. They were pouring blood on him fast as possible, but weren't able to stop the bleeding. "He's undoubtedly one of the worst cases I had since I've been down here," Dr. Visser admitted.
Joey was rushed into surgery. As his family and friends, including his sister, Sarah Mathis, awaiting any hopeful news, Dr. Visser operated on him and didn't find a source of bleeding. He told everyone close to Joey that he may not make it.
The first night, Joey almost bled to death three times. After returning to surgery one more time, the doctors were finally able to slow the bleeding. "The best part was when he opened his eyes and knew he can hear them. He knew we were there," Sarah stated.
After four months in the hospital, Joey was transferred to Baptist Rehabilitation Center Institute. Physical therapist Jeff Dobbins took over his care. It took Joey 10 months to bend and straighten his legs effectively. "For a long time, I didn't want to live. But my sister and all of my close friends gave me a lot of love. All of them really pushed me through this," Joey said.
Joey has since recovered enough from the accident. Since then, he works out and go to places, getting his life back to normal. Since then, he and his friends are like brothers. "I feel good about myself now. I had my days when I can tell it was going to rain. I'm a pretty good weatherman now, but I'm glad to be here," Joey said.