Craig Towler was on his way to a date when he was hit by a car. Pinned between to vehicles, he thought his life was about to end. But the tragic car crash led to something that no one could have possibly seen coming.
Meet Craig Towler
Craig Towler was nothing short of a fitness fanatic. At age 28, he was living the life of many twenty-somethings who had decided to settle down in Boulder, Colorado. He spent his free time playing sports and running, regularly competing in 10k races.
Towler had spent most of his life in Boulder, and even grew up in South Boulder. “This is my town,” Towler said in an interview. “I was a runner, I liked to hike and do everything outdoors.” But that was all about to change in a tragic twist of fate.
The Day That Would Change His Life
Towler remembers the Fourth of July in 2016 clearly, as if it were yesterday. It was a day that Towler had actually been looking forward to for weeks. “I was having such a great day up until the accident,” Towler recalled.
Towler made his way from his home to the Boulder Reservoir. His workplace, BBSC Endurance Sports, was hosting its annual race, which always took place on July 4th. That morning, everything went as expected, without a hitch. By day’s end, his life would be irreversibly changed.
A July 4th To Remember
Towler already knew that this July 4th would be different from the others. “This year was especially exciting because it was the first race I was working as the timer,” Towler said in an interview. But the joy of that moment was about to be a distant memory.
After the race ended and everyone had packed up their gear to leave, Towler made his way home. His plan that day was to stop as his place, load back up the car, and head to a friend’s to watch the fireworks. But he would never make it to that party.
Along with hanging out with his friends, Towler had plans to bring the girl he had been seeing to the fireworks show. He was excited to show off his new love interest, and while it was only their third date, he was looking forward to seeing how she would fare among his friends.
Towler was at home unloading his racing gear from his truck when his life was changed forever in a split second: a car crash. “I was standing behind the tailgate of my SUV and felt an impact that pushed me into the back of my vehicle,” he wrote.
Life In Danger
Towler’s body immediately went into shock. After the impact of the car crash, he could not feel anything. “Before I knew what had happened, I looked down and saw both of my legs detached,” he wrote. “I was in tremendous shock at the time, but I remember everything very vividly.”
The fitness fanatic was now in the fight for his life. “I immediately knew that my life was in danger, and action had to be taken immediately in order to survive,” Towler wrote. “I didn’t realize at the time what had happened, but I knew something had happened that was major.”
Rushing To Rescue Craig
Everyone who had witnessed the accident ran to help. And to their surprise, the man who was hit was fully conscious, able to give out instructions and think seemingly clearly. “I instructed them how to tie tourniquets around my legs with belts or whatever they had to stop the bleeding,” Towler told SWNS.com.
Towler told those around him to take off their belts to help stop the bleeding. Laying on the street, Towler could see how quickly he was losing blood. Whatever help that would come would have to come quickly, or he would lose his life.
7. A Rescue Attempt
Police rushed to the scene, but it was quickly determined that they would need much more help to keep Towler alive. So Towler was airlifted in a helicopter to the closest hospital, the trauma center at Denver Health Medical Center.
The entire way there, a terrified Towler was awake and coherent, watching paramedics struggle to keep him alive. “I was conscious the entire time and I remember everything until being sedated for the surgeries,” Towler wrote. And then, everything went black.
8. Saving Craig’s Life
As Towler was sedated, doctors performed hours of surgery on his legs. “I later learned from the doctors that the [makeshift belt] tourniquets had stayed on my legs until I entered surgery hours later, and are the reason that I am alive today,” Towler wrote.
Through the surgery, doctors were able to save Towler’s life. But they also knew that Towler’s life was about to be much different than it had been before. And they were about to break some terrible news to their brave patient.
9. “It Was Either Life Or Limb”
Once Towler was conscious, doctors broke the news. If he did not agree to amputate his legs, he would likely bleed to death. “It was either life or limb,” Craig told SWNS.com. “I remember telling the doctor ‘You know what, just do what you have to do.'”
The doctors knew what they had to do, and prepped Towler for surgery to amputate his legs. His left leg would have to be amputated below the knee, and his right just at the knee. But even in this tense moment, Towler had request that no one saw coming.
10. A Simple Favor
Towler was about to start his first of the five surgeries that it would require for him to fully amputate his legs. The entire process was about to take a week long. But before it began, he had one thing he needed to do.
From the hospital bed, Towler turned to a friend who had rushed to be by his side. Towler had his friend rummage through his belongings to grab his phone. He then asked his friend to go into his phone contacts and text a woman named Amanda.
11. Cancelling A Date
At a time like this, what could Towler possibly have to text a random woman about? With plenty of other life-altering events taking place, texting this mystery woman could have been the last thing on his mind. But for Towler, it was important.
Towler had a date scheduled that night with a new woman – Amanda Schiewe – and he worried about what might happen if she had never heard from him. They had only been seeing each other for three weeks, but he knew something was different with her. He just didn’t know just how different she would be.
12. Meeting Amanda
Schiewe had caught Towler’s eye months before, but it took a while for the two to speak. He had spotted her across his local gym, where Schiewe worked as a fitness trainer. “It took a while for me to get the guts to talk to her,” Towler said to SWNS.com.
“I actually would schedule my workouts around the time when she was working,” he said. “I would say ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ and finally I walked up to her. It was a slow process for me.” But just as their love story was starting to begin, Towler was stuck in a hospital bed worried it, and possibly his life, were about to end.
13. Getting The Call
Schiewe was at home preparing for her date that night. She was expecting it to be a night of fireworks, hot dogs, meeting new friends, and some flirtation. But as she eagerly sat by her phone, the man she had just began to see hadn’t yet called her.
“I was getting nervous,” Schiewe wrote on Instagram. “Craig is NOT the kind of gentleman to just ditch a gal … and we were so excited to spend the evening together. Something was up. I never expected to hear the kind of news I received.”
14. An Unexpected Phone Call
Suddenly, Schiewe’s phone rang. It was Towler’s number, but the voice was not Towler’s. “Cedric [Towler’s best friend] told me Craig was hit by a car and was going to survive, but will have his legs amputated soon,” Schiewe wrote. “He also told me Craig said he was really sorry to have to cancel our date!”
In a time like this, Schiewe was shocked that Towler had made a point to call her. “The fact that he was even thinking of me made me fall for him even harder,” Schiewe wrote. In that moment, she knew exactly what she had to do.
15. The Road To Recovery
Even though they had only known each other for three weeks, Schiewe came rushing to the hospital to be by Towler’s side. And she didn’t leave. Schiewe spent weeks at the hospital with Towler, including on his 29th birthday when he had 87 staples removed from his legs.
“I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but she was there immediately, no questions asked and I knew she would be the one for me,” Towler said to SWNS.com. Over the weeks, she was there as he endured nine surgeries on his legs. But that would only be the start of it all.
16. Trying To Reach Acceptance
Over the weeks following the car crash, Towler learned that the man who had nearly killed him that day had been driving while impaired. And the man’s decision to get behind the wheel changed Towler’s life. And at first, it was hard to accept that fate.
But then, Towler changed his outlook. “When I was in the ICU, I made a very conscious decision,” Towler said. “I was talking to my mom and I said I need to accept what had happened and that it was real. Only once I had that acceptance could I move forward.” And move forward he did.
17. A Different Way Of Dating
Spending nights at the hospital is definitely not how most relationships start out. But for Schiewe and Towler, this was their new reality, and they were making the most of it. “Amanda was with me more days than not,” Towler said.
Schiewe was there for every surgery, she was there for every trip to the ICU, when he was fitted for his new legs, when he tried out his new wheelchair, and she was there for his recovery. She was even there the day that he got released from the hospital to start his new life.
18. A Whole New Home
Starting a relationship is always hard. But for Schiewe and Towler, it was even harder. Towler, at times, was at the lowest points of his life. But that never stopped Schiewe. “In that short period of timem I quickly learned how selfless and kind she is, especially considering the shape I was in,” Towler said.
When Towler was finally released from the hospital, he entered normal life knowing it would always be different. He expected that things would change drastically for him. But he never expected what was about to unfold, and neither did anyone else.
19. A Shoulder To Lean On
In the months spent at the hospital, Schiewe and Towler had grown incredibly close. So eight months after he was released from the hospital, the two took their relationship to yet another level. They told their families and friends that they were moving in together.
“Amanda was a big part of everything,” Towler said. “It 100 percent helped to have a partner there in such a hard time, with so many emotions going on.” Together, they built a new life. But there was still one huge piece that was missing for Towler.
20. Back To The Races
Towler’s life had always centered around sports. And despite losing both of his legs, Towler had no intention of changing that focus. In September 2016, just 3 months after his car accident and one month after his hospital release, Towler returned to work.
But that wasn’t enough. Before his accident, Towler had always wanted to compete in the BOLDERBoulder race. And on Memorial Day, 10 months after doctors removed both of his legs, he competed in a wheelchair. But there were always things that were going to be forever different.
21. A New Normal
Since Towler lost both of his legs, he has competed in a handful of races, taken up kayaking, returned to the gym, relearned how to ski, and began to hand-cycles and rope climb, according to SWNS.com. But those accomplishments have also come with some sad truths.
“It would be untrue to say that I have not changed by this experience,” Towler said. “The fact of the matter is that no matter how positive my outlook is, and how motivated I am to succeed, this experience has changed me for the rest of my life.” But that doesn’t mean he was not determined to help change the hearts of others.
22. Becoming An Advocate
Becoming part of the amputee community opened up Towler’s eyes to what he called an overlooked and “marginalized community.” Resources that would have helped him navigate the process simply were not available. But Towler was determined to change that for others in his new community.
He decided to start a group called Amputee Concierge, an online program that provides helpful information, resources, and advice to people who have lost limbs and their family members struggling with the process. And all along the process, he once again had someone by his side.
23. The Future With Amanda
When Towler experienced the car crash, he was sure that his relationship with Schiewe was also doomed. But throughout the years, she continued to stick around. And five years after his July 4th accident, the two celebrated Towler’s “Alive Day” as a couple.
And from Schiewe’s social media, it seems that Towler saved her as well. “I can’t tell you where I’d be right now if this man didn’t survive this brutal accident,” she wrote on Instagram. “He’s one of my biggest teachers and means the absolute world to me … Thank you for surviving, Craig.”
24. Physically Changed, But Not Mentally
In the last five years, Towler’s relationship remained stable, but pretty much everything else was different than it had been before the accident. “This experience may have changed me physically, but my core values and life goals have not changed,” Towler said.
“I am lucky to be alive today,” Towler admitted. “So every second that I am here is a blessing, and I will use my life experiences to spread positivity, and hopefully help motivate people to value the time we have.” And for anyone inspired by his story, Towler has one piece of advice.
25. Deciding To Live
Towler says that the day he lost his legs was the day he lost his need to have control over his life. “This may seem overwhelming and scary, but once you truly let go of trying to control [the external things], it becomes freeing,” he wrote.
Towler could have died that day on July 4th, 2016. And he could have died in the days after. But he says he decided to live with his new girlfriend by his side. “Though my path was a different one and a lot more challenging, I was still alive, and I decided to live.”
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