BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some people would say Michael Chustz shouldn't be alive. Less than one year after a major wreck that left him in a coma for nearly a week, he points to the power of prayer for the reason he's here today.
"I was trying to open the door and get out of the truck and it wouldn't budge," Chustz said. "It was at that point that I realized I couldn't breathe."
Chustz had been driving towards Lafayette on a routine work trip. He had just passed Highway 415 and was nearing Gross Tete when he noticed traffic was coming to a quick stop. Trapped between two 18-wheelers, he did all he could to avoid a collision.
"By the time I realized, they were going 25 miles an hour coasting up to the traffic, and I was going 70 miles an hour- it was too late," Chustz said. "So I swerved to miss them and I clipped the back right corner of the 18-wheeler on the right and I was completely crushed."
Chustz broke both of his femurs. His tibia was broken in six places. His lungs and ribs were punctured. His collarbone was cracked, his shoulder blades were shattered. His liver was lacerated.
"I was really banged up," said Chustz.
Maybe the only thing still in tact, was his faith.
"When you're standing on the side of the interstate and you're completely crushed, that's all you got," Chustz said. "God is the only one who can help you in that situation. He truly did reach down his hand and I may have been holding his hand, but I felt God's presence there holding mine."
Michael remembers a man, almost immediately, coming to him after the wreck to hold his hand. And to more importantly, pray with him.
"He said 'Son, it's going to be okay, let me pray with you.' It was at that moment where all I could concentrate on was breathing, but at the same time I began to pray," said Chustz.
"I prayed that when my daughter grew up I would be there to walk her down the aisle. I prayed that my son would have somebody to play baseball with and that he would have a dad just like every boy needs. And I really focused on praying for my wife. I didn't want her to be alone," Chustz said.
She wouldn't have to be alone. Nearly one week later, Chustz woke from a coma, but to more sobering news.
"The doctors said it would probably be Christmas before I would be able to walk I started to pray, we all were, that I would be out of the hospital sooner rather than later."
Just as his prayers had worked before, they too would work again.
"They told me I would be in there a couple of months. It was 22 days later I was released from the hospital on our 5th wedding anniversary," Chustz said.
Ten months later, Michael is on a steady road to recovery, and surprisingly, with just a few scars to show for his ordeal.
"I still have a few surgeries left to go, still have a little limp, but it's nothing that's going to slow me down or stop me," he said.
He's back on his feet and back to coaching his son's tee-ball games. He has a lot more innings left in him and reflects on his wreck as just a stop at second. It's his power of prayer that will keep him rounding the bases.
"For me to understand what he wants me to do, I have to stay in prayer and it's that constant communication between me and him so that I can know what he wants for my life and for my family's life," he said.
"When the doctors thought he didn't have a chance, God made it very evident that he had a plan for me to be here," Chustz said.
A plan where, even in tee-ball, the most important play is at home plate.