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Near death experiences, renewed faith

9-1-1 EMERGENCY! “Critical motorcycle accident on I-80, mile marker 324, send help.” This eight-second 9-1-1 call came on June 30, 2009 at about 6:30 a.m. to a Nevada dispatch office. The man driving the motorcycle was Scott Gottschalk from Kimball. He was on his Harley Davidson motorcycle on the final leg of a cross-country journey. His goal was to become one of only a handful of motorcycle riders to cross the United States from ocean-to-ocean within 48 hours on a motorcycle. According to his recent book “Nine Lives to Eternity,” Gottschalk called his wife, Astrid, at 9 p.m. from somewhere in Wyoming and said, “Hi, honey, I can’t talk long since I’ve got to get back on the road. I wanted to let you know that I’ve logged over two thousand miles thus far, and I’m still on pace to reach my endurance distance target. I just have to drive all night for a second night and then I’ll call you about 8 a.m. from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif. Please give Trevor and Travis an update on my progress so they won’t worry. I love you, and I’ll call you in the morning when I’ve reached my target.” His book details 27 life-threatening experiences he encountered and how he cheated death by what he believes is spiritual divine intervention. He spoke to the All Saints Lutheran Church congregation in Darwin (located between Dassel and Litchfield), in January, telling about his belief in angels. Gottschalk was raised on a farm in southeastern Minnesota near the village of Byron. He received a double major in Animal Science and Agriculture Education for his Bachelor of Science Degree. He worked for more than 30 years for Land O’ Lakes, Inc. serving the farmers of the area. Scott and his wife, Astrid live in central Minnesota near Kimball and they have two adult sons, Trevor and Travis. Scott is an author and a public speaker. At 1 a.m. on June 30, 2009 he stopped at a gas station near the Utah and Nevada border. He put on his helmet because the state of Nevada requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet. Gottschalk didn’t believe states should determine if he should wear a helmet or not. He believed people should have the right of freedom of choice and it shouldn’t be the government telling us what to do. Gottschalk says in retrospect, he was glad he chose that moment to wear his helmet. It was a dark, no moon night as he traveled on the four-lane Interstate Highway 80. He set his cruise control of the motorcycle to the posted 75-mile per hour speed limit and felt good that he was within the allotted eight-hour time frame to bring to a close his endurance test. But then his life changed. The only thing he remembers happening that night as he was cruising down Interstate 80 was a large deer darting into his path. According to the Nevada State Highway patrol accident report the deer appeared so suddenly that Gottschalk didn’t even have time to hit the brakes on the motorcycle. The cruise control on his bike was still locked in at 75-miles per hour. The collision with the deer sent him with his motorcycle into the ditch, without leaving any skid marks on the Interstate Highway. He flipped end-over-end three times landing almost a football field away from the highway into a sagebrush dense desert. It was 2 a.m. He was alone, unconscious, severely injured and was near death. No one witnessed the accident and no one was able to detect there was an accident. Four and a half hours later at 6:30 a.m. he was still alone and unconscious. Then out of nowhere he noticed a cloud above him with a face that shouted inches from his face, “Hey are you alive!” Gottschalk opened his eyes and the voice said “My God, you are alive. Can you move?” After Gottschalk realized he couldn’t move or sit up, the voice said, “I’ll get help.” Gottschalk went back into a deep unconsciousness. At 7 a.m. he heard the noise of a rescue helicopter. He was loaded and delivered to the Elko Nevada Regional Medical Care Center that was about 25 miles away from Reno. After four hours of surgery, at 11 a.m. he awoke and his doctor explained to him the extent of his injuries and what further work needed to be done. He had three broken vertebrae in his back, all his frontal ribs on the right side were broken, three of those ribs on the back side were also broken, the collarbone on the right side was shattered in several places, his right shoulder was dislocated and suffered torn cartilage, fractured left leg, broken finger joints and finally one of his molar teeth was broke. Amazingly, because he was wearing a helmet he suffered no head injuries, other than the tooth. A few weeks after the accident he received an accident report in the mail from the Nevada State Highway Dept. The report had a graphic description of the scene with photos. But nowhere in the report did it mention the person who discovered him and who might have made the 9-1-1 call. He immediately called the patrol office in Nevada and asked who was the person that found him so he could contact him and thank him for saving his life. “I was told there was no record of anyone finding me.” In fact the officer on the phone said: “There is no one other than the medical crew and patrol officers present at the scene of your accident.” I then called the Nevada 9-1-1 dispatch office to find out who made the 9-1-1 call. After a brief discussion with the operator, she said it was an eight-second call and the caller immediately hung up. “That caller instantly hanging up was improper protocol. All we can tell you is that, yes, someone left a brief message, but we have no documentation of who it was or how you could go about contacting them.” In his book, Gottschalk says “On that fateful day, I should never have survived, yet I did. I should never have fully recovered from my extensive injuries, but I have. I want to tell all who read these words that I’ve witnessed angels, and I’ve felt the loving hand of the Lord nudging me onward in life.” When he spoke to the parishioners at All Saints Lutheran Church in Darwin, he was walking as a normal person and demonstrated the mobility of his arm by rotating his left arm like a fast-pitch softball pitcher would. Gottschalk also told the church group about the life-threatening time when he was only eight-years old and living in a 100-year old house on a farm near Byron, Minn. He was in the second grade and it was a cold, January day. He was at school and the principal announced over the loudspeaker that there was a storm heading their way and buses were parked out front and ready to take them home. Gottschalk shouted with excitement, as most children would, because they got to have a day off from school. When he got home his dad, who had to go to work at Rochester, took him aside and told Scott he was in charge because he was the oldest child. Scott, his two siblings and mother finished their chores, said their nighttime prayers and went to bed as the dangerous and treacherous snowstorm hit. “I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and dragged my hand along the sheets of my bed and wondered why it was so wet. I finally realized I had vomited on my bed. This has never happened to me before so I went to my four-year-old brother’s bed. I stumbled and felt very weak and wondered why I didn’t wake up when I was throwing up. When I got to my brother’s bed, his bed was wet also. He had vomited too. I shook him but he would not wake up. I then went to my sister’s room and her bed was wet with vomit. I shook her but she would not wake up. I yelled out “Mom, come quick, we are all very sick. We all have the flu really bad, and Jerry and Julie won’t wake up.” With no response from my mom, I crept down to her bedroom, which was just below ours, turned on her bedroom light and found her sleeping in vomit. After shaking her, she whispered to me, “Scott, you need to call your father at his job and ask your father if he is sick from food poisoning from something we ate at suppertime.” I dialed my father’s work number and fortunately he answered immediately. I asked him the question instructed by my mother. He responded by saying, “Scott, I have no possible idea why you are all so sick because I have felt perfectly fine all night long. We all ate the same food for supper, so it can’t be food poisoning or I would be sick also.” My father told me everything would be alright and I should do my best to find a way to get my siblings downstairs with my mother. “I dragged my brother and sister down the steep stairs, one at-a-time, and put them with my mother. I was tired and losing consciousness. I once again tried to awaken my mother and siblings with no success. For whatever reason, I don’t know why, I felt compelled to open every window in the downstairs of our home. Somehow, I was able to crack open all of the tight windows. What young child would even think to do something as that?” Outside the cold winds from the storm, rushed through the windows and brought fresh air into our home. Soon my mother and siblings started waking up. I recall my mother saying, “Scott, for God’s sake why on earth do you have all the windows opened up in the house? Can’t you tell that it is freezing in here?” When my father finally got home from work, he entered the house and wondered why in the world it was so cold in the house. He called a heating and ventilation expert and he determined the furnace exhaust pipe was improperly installed on top of our home and snow had covered it. He explained to my dad that the home had become overwhelmed with lethal levels of carbon monoxide in our house last night and we all could have died. The next day my mother and father took me aside and asked me to open the windows again like I did the day before. I went to the window and I couldn’t open it. I went to the next window and the same thing happened. I couldn’t open it. I tried all the windows and couldn’t open any of them. My dad wondered how I was able to open the windows because he tried and he couldn’t open them either. Scott wondered too, how does an eight-year- old child deep within the grasp of death suddenly wake up, try to wake up his siblings and mother, drag his brother and sister downstairs, and have the strength to open all the unmovable windows, and why would he even attempt to open them anyway? In his book, Scott concludes, “When I reflect back on those memories, I have little doubt that my God was standing alongside me and guiding me.” Gottschalk has written three books, “The Folk and Their Fauna”, the story of one man’s love affair with animals, “Nine Lives to Eternity” and his most recent fiction book titled “Terrifying Tales Unleashed”. He is available for speaking engagements. To order a book or learn more, visit or contact Scott at

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