IRONMAN ATHLETE TELLS TALES OF DEATH TO LIFE
The Ohio State University Newspaper “The Lantern”
By Caitlyn Wasmundt
“I don’t want to die.”
That was Brian Boyle’s only thought when he woke from a coma and a priest read him his last rites.
Boyle shared his experience of going from deathbed to Hawaiian Ironman in three years when he spoke at the Ohio Union Feb. 23 as collaboration between the Ohio Union Activities Board and the American Red Cross.
In 2004, a car crash almost ended Boyle’s life at age 18, when a dump truck smashed into Boyle’s car. Not only did Boyle suffer broken bones and internal bleeding, but his heart shifted to the other side of his chest from the impact. Boyle said paramedics and doctors revived him eight times in two months to keep him alive.
Boyle gave the audience a first-person account of what he experienced after waking up in the hospital and having no idea where he was or why he was there.
“I awake to regular beeping sounds,” Boyle said. “I’m alone in a white room and looking straight up at the ceiling … I try to raise my arms, then legs, but I can’t move them. My head won’t budge either.”
Moments after waking up, a dark shadowy figure walked into Boyle’s room. He said he feared it was death, but then realized it was a priest who began reading his last rites.
As he read his story to the audience, Boyle had to stop for a moment.
“I’m sorry, flashbacks,” he said.
Katie Sattler, a fourth-year in nursing, said Boyle’s story touched her on a personal and professional level.
“It was very inspirational, it gives me a different standpoint in nursing,” Sattler said.
Two months after regaining consciousness, doctors moved Boyle to a therapy facility, Boyle told his audience.
During his time in the Intensive Care Unit and rehab, Boyle said he lost hope and didn’t see a reason to live. But through faith and his parents’ love, he said he realized he needed to fight.
Boyle wrote a book about his journey called “Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back From the Dead.”
Three years after the accident, Boyle said he decided to compete in the Hawaii Ironman, an endurance triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
Boyle said his decision to compete was his way of telling those around him that he was finally OK.
“Ironman sealed the deal on my recovery,” Boyle said.
He finished the competition in 14 hours and 42 minutes, just three years after being told he might never walk again.
“It was the breath of life all over again,” Boyle said about crossing the finish line.
Doire Perot, a third-year in operations management and president of American Red Cross Club at OSU, said hearing Boyle’s story was an incredible opportunity for OSU students.
“You can take a lot away from Brian’s story, even if you aren’t an athlete,” Perot said.
After telling his audience his firsthand experience, he opened it up to a Q-and-A session.
Audience members asked him a wide range of questions, from his training regimen for his first Ironman to how he feels about driving after the accident.
Since his first Ironman competition, Boyle has competed in about 30 other endurance competitions, he said.
Boyle said he doesn’t remember the accident, but is still cautious when he’s on the road.
“I don’t remember the accident, but the scars are there,” Boyle said of his lost memory.
To read more, please visit the newspaper’s website.