OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - "This is you when you was in the ICU, you had about 30 lines hooked up to you." David Stokes told his son Justin, showing him pictures of Justin in Intensive Care after an ATV accident.
It started as a typical summer day for Justin Stokes, and turned tragic in the blink of an eye. Justin was four wheeling with his girlfriend this past May when he was suddenly met by a bolting deer.
"I slammed on my brakes but I still hit it. It threw me off and Amanda off that's all I remember."
Justin, who was transported to the Medical Center, suffered a broken collarbone, ribs, punctured lungs and extreme brain swelling. His parents were told that night, Justin would not survive. Soon after his heart stopped beating "and then when they got ready to move him again in the ICU they had to bring him back again so it was three times his heart stopped beating." Explained David Stokes.
David Stokes, says he's still haunted by memories of doctors urging him to say his last goodbye.
"I couldn't believe that you know. It's hard to tell someone that you're gonna see your child for the last time."
But David Stokes says fate stepped in, Doctor El Dihabey removed the top of Justin's skull to allow the brain to expand, saving his life, and six months later Justin is in therapy and rehabilitation. He's living, breathing, even walking and speaking. Justin says, "I'm so happy I'm home for Christmas with my family. SO happy I really am."
"You look at Justin and you see that boy up and walking, you see that is a miracle. Justin is a walking miracle."
For the Stokes Family, they say Christmas has taken on an entirely new meaning, "It is. It's a Christmas miracle Justin is here and he has made everyone very proud."