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Near Death Experience

It’s not fun when you have a near death experience, especially when it’s probably within an inch of your life which is what mine was. I was in Gatlinburg Tennessee with my family to celebrate the Fourth of July. We usually go to the midnight parade but it was raining so we decided to skip it this year. The next day it was still drizzling but we decided that we could get some tubes and go to the river. We headed into the park with our tubes and saw some of the really crazy rapids at some parts of the river and we were saying how grateful we were that we weren’t going there. When we finally got to our spot in the park we couldn’t contain our excitement me, my little sister and my two younger cousins all jumped out of the car with tubes in our hands. We ran through the trees and straight into the freezing cold water. I took the girls upstream a little and we lazily floated down to the parents in our tubes and we did that about two times. I had noticed that my brother and cousin had been going somewhere further downstream and of course being my stupid self I asked if I could along with them. They tried to tell me no but I kept saying it’ll be fine nothings going to happen. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Our three tubes got tied together and we pushed ourselves out into the middle of the river to start heading down. At first it was lazy and we weren’t really paying much attention because I figured the boys would tell me when we needed to get out but they never did. We just continued talking and laughing not paying attention until we realized that we were in the middle of huge rapids. We went over a huge rock that threw my cousin out of his tube and I turned around to see him go under at least five times before getting out and then it was just my brother and I. We hit another rock and my tube got separated from his and I started going down the wrong side of the river. I was trying to grab anything that I could hold onto but I couldn’t keep a hold of anything because the water was moving way too fast. I finally hit one last rapid where I stood up and crawled out of the water shivering and I almost breathed a sigh of relief until I realized that I was on the wrong side of the river and I had just lost my glasses. So not only was I trapped against sheer rock walls, I was also blind and slowly losing all feeling in my body as the sun started to go down and it started to rain harder. My uncle and my dad were sitting on the other side encouraging me telling me to keep moving but at that point I had given up. I had already been tree for two hours with only three park rangers standing on the other side of the river “assessing the situation”. I finally sat down and just gave up. I started to fall asleep when I heard splashing in the water a couple of feet away. I jumped up and walked to the edge of the river and saw a person swimming and I was thinking that he had to be the absolute craziest person ever. He finally got to me and climbed out. He asked me a few questions, I don’t remember any of them now, I was just happy to finally see a face even if it wasn’t one that I knew. He said that I was going to get a life jacket and a helmet and then I would have to lay back in the water. Now, somehow during this whole ordeal I had somehow managed to convince myself that I wouldn’t have to go back in the water but I didn’t know how else I was supposed to get across. When he finally got my life jacket and helmet I put it on and he asked me one last question right before we went. Are you scared? Of course I said no because I’m not going to admit that I’m scared but on the inside I was thinking of every sarcastic comment I could. We stepped into the water and right away I started hyperventilating because of how cold it was. He told me that he would hold onto my life jacket and that I didn’t need to worry, I was perfectly safe. So, I laid down in the water with him right behind me and we started floating across and I went under the first major rapid that we hit and of course when he pulled me up I was gasping for air like crazy. I went under at least three more times before I actually made it back across and when I did make it back to the correct side I stood up and ran as fast as my stiff legs could take me straight into my dad’s arms and we stood there crying for about a minute before one of the rangers pointed out something kind of funny. He pointed out that my dad had been walking really close to a log that had a poisonous snake sitting right behind it. I thanked my rescuers a billion times and I kind of thanked the rangers too. I was just so happy to be with my family and I have to say that I had never wanted to be with my family more than in that moment.

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