(Ben Ledbetter – Jackson Parish Journal)
The crosshairs of the scope settled just behind the shoulder of the deer. The young man reached up and slowly traced his hand down along the stock of the .308 rifle. He slipped his index finger inside the trigger guard and slightly drew pressure. As had been practiced many times before, the countdown started. Three! Two! One! KERPOW! WHUMP!
He knew the shot was true by the sound but he didn’t see the big doe lying in the middle of the lane. He couldn’t. Tyler Harvey is legally blind!
His hunting companion, Brent Mize, saw the result though and was almost beside himself with joy. Ecstatically, he started pounding Harvey on the back in congratulations.
“Dang near knocked the breath out of me,” recalled Harvey.
Mize lifted the rifle again and peered through the scope to view the downed prize. That was not all he saw either. Surprisingly, roughly forty yards further down the line stood another. Even better, this one had horns.
“Tyler!” whispered Mize. “You aren’t going to believe this but I am looking at a spike just past where the doe is. You want him?”
“Heck Yeah!” answered Harvey.
What Mize didn’t know was that Harvey had always wanted to come home with a buck and doe after a hunting trip. He had taken part in killing a deer in other hunts he had gone on before but never had the chance to get two in one day. This was “bucket list” territory.
They quickly took their position again with Mize settling the rifle to his shoulder and drawing aim. Sitting behind and just to the right, Harvey reached around and found the trigger. Again, the countdown proceeded. Harvey slowly squeezed…..
“Let’s go get ‘em!” shouted Mize, who this time refrained from the physical congratulatory expression.
“I told him don’t go beating on me again,” laughed Harvey.
As it turned out, combining to shoot the two deer was the easy part. What proved to be difficult was trying to get them in the side-by-side. Mize recently had surgery on his hand and Harvey suffers from nerve and muscle damage in his right arm. Finally after about four or five attempts the pair succeeded in getting the deer on board.
“It was a chore for sure,” remembered Mize. “I’ve got a bad hand and he has a bad arm. For a little while there I was thinking it would be a miracle if we ever got them loaded up.”
All it really took was just a little coordination of both using their “good side.” The “miracle” had already taken place 21 years ago. That was when Harvey escaped death.
As a ten year old lad, the son of Troy Harvey and Lisa (Worthington) Howard, got run over by a drunk driver while riding his three-wheeler. The damage he suffered was so catastrophic he died on the way to the hospital only to be brought back to life by the paramedics.
Several emergency surgeries followed to repair broken bones, internal injuries and worst of all fluid leaking from his brain. While on the operating table the doctors had to bring him back to life again and again, as they ferociously worked to try and repair the damage.
After many days and multiple operations the prognosis for recovery was still dire.
“The doctor’s told my parents that I would be lucky to survive and that if I did, I most likely would never walk again,” reflected Harvey. “I knew I was going to be all right though.”
How did he know?
“God told me so!” explained Harvey, who then expounded on his statement.
“It was during the last time I had died. I could feel myself leaving my body but then I heard God’s voice tell me, Son, I am sending you back because I want people to see the miracles that I can do. Then I was back in my body.”
For two and a half months, Harvey laid inert in a coma. Doctors and Specialists had warned that even if he survived that he would be incapable of taking care of himself. Then family, friends and the hundreds of well-wishers, got to witness the miracle that God had promised.
“I woke up and walked out of the hospital,” said Harvey with a ‘mile-wide’ smile on his face.
His recovery effort was far from over though. Actually, it was just beginning years and years of rehabilitation and therapy. He now had to learn to live with impaired vision so bad that anything more than a foot away from his face was fuzzy due to unrepairable damage to the optic nerves in his eyes. He also had to retrain the right side of his body to function again due to severe nerve and muscle damage.
Now, 21 years later, Harvey walks about a mile back and forth to work where he has been gainfully employed for the past seven years as a Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy assisting people that come to the Courthouse.
He still walks with a limp and his right arm and hand is still impaired. He also uses a walking stick to help feel his way around. Despite all that, Harvey doesn’t look at life as he is handicapped. Instead he fells luckier than most.
“Most people go through their whole life wondering what their purpose on earth is,” explained Harvey. “I am fortunate in that I know I am here so that people can see the miracles that God can do and does.”
With all that Harvey has achieved, there are still a couple of things that he would like to do. One is to take part in a hunt that ended up with a “trophy” buck hanging on his wall. Another is to drive a truck. Can these desires actually become reality? Who knows, but with all that Harvey has overcome in his life there is nothing that seems impossible. Call it a blind ambition!
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