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Victoria family counts blessings after recovering from crash (Video)

By Jessica Priest
Nov. 21, 2012 at 5:21 a.m.
Updated Nov. 22, 2012 at 5:22 a.m.

Chad Ganaway holds his daughter, Caleigh, 1, with his wife, Chelsea, a scene that was not thought possible after they were both critically injured in a car crash in 2009 while on their way home from a family Thanksgiving celebration.

The video had been stored away for about two years.

Chad Ganaway decided Thanksgiving would be a good time to watch again the 14-minute slide show and take stock in what he calls the closest thing to a happily-ever-after most people get in this world.

It depicts how he and his wife, Chelsea, met, their marriage in 2010 and the events of Nov. 28, 2009, the latter of which will forever replay in his mind.

That's when he and Chelsea, then his fiance, hit a 1,500-pound cow during their ride back to Victoria from visiting family in Hobbs, N.M.

They wanted to share what they're most grateful for - their progress - in a time when good news is scarce.

"Sometimes we get caught up in the food and Black Friday that we forget how precious life really is," Chad said, adding he'll probably never know how many Victorians prayed for their speedy recovery until he reaches heaven.

The Ganaways were going 65 mph that night on Farm-to-Market Road 11 near Fort Stockton. They never had a chance to swerve.

The top of their Honda Civic sliced off, the young couple were knocked unconscious and spun into a field. Cloaked in darkness, they suffered for 45 minutes until paramedics arrived.

"This is appropriately named, 'Holy Cow,'" Chad said about the DVD, which has landed in the laps of those questioning their faith in countries as far away as Spain, France, Russia and Africa.

He was chuckling as he reclined on the couch Saturday, a faint scar on his left arm the only indication, to an outsider, of the traumatic accident.

Chelsea's recovery, Chad said, was even more miraculous.

She was flown to an Odessa hospital, where she slipped into a seven-day coma. When she awoke, she spent months relearning how to move, talk and write at Warm Springs, a Victoria rehabilitation center, with support and prayers from the Victoria community.

The supporters organized a benefit for the Ganaways in 2010 at Club Westerner to make a dent in the mounting medical bills.

"The doctors told us that she would probably need 24-hour care for the rest of her life," Chad said. "They said we'd be lucky if we got 50 to 60 percent of her cognitive abilities back."

But Chelsea proved them wrong.

A testament to this, she also sat by as pictures - documenting both happy times and sad - appeared on the screen in unison with a MercyMe song. This time, the couple's 1-year-old daughter, Caleigh, sat perched and wiggling on her lap.

"She's whining," Chelsea smiled at the youngster, who can tell strangers her age and flex her little arms on command. "It's her nap time."

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, they thought it important to show Caleigh their journey for the first time.

Most poignant is the last sequence.

"How can you see this ... and doubt God?" the narrator asked.

It's a question even the Ganaways are still forced to ponder every now and then as daily pressures add up.

Chelsea said her short-term memory is improving at a frustratingly slow pace. With her brain's vision and speech center damaged, she has no peripheral vision and still has trouble searching for the right words.

"My memory is not on the ball like it used to be," she said. "At least, I realize I want to say the right things ... Some people are really out in left field and don't know it."

Chad recently hosted the 10-year ribbon cutting ceremony at his Cuero gymnastics gym. He made sure Caleigh tested the trampoline there at only 8 days old, but says he won't be disappointed later if she grows up to be passionate about other things.

The three left Tuesday for Hobbs, N.M., for Thanksgiving again - this time choosing a different mode of transportation - although Chad said he won't let a road he's driven on at least 20 times beat him in the end.

"I'm not scared, but she doesn't want to take it," he said about Chelsea. "This time, we're flying, though, because we figure there won't be any cows in the sky."

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