‘I got lucky,” says Las Vegas pastor who survived 21 stab wounds

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The Rev. Russ Smethers was bleeding successful the thoroughfare erstwhile helium afloat understood the seriousness of his situation. He soon became self-aware again successful a trauma country adjacent to metallic tables and nether infirmary lights.

“This is real, you know, and everybody’s saying, ‘You’re going to beryllium OK,’” Smethers said, believing that their repeated assurances, however, could mean helium mightiness not beryllium good aft all. “Everything goes done your head.”

Smethers, 54, an subordinate pastor astatine Abundant Peace Church, was wrong his Las Vegas location erstwhile helium was stabbed 21 times successful March by an assailant wielding a butcher knife. After 5 days spent astatine University Medical Center’s trauma center, and aggregate surgeries, Smethers is remarkably good connected the roadworthy to recovery.

“I shouldn’t beryllium here,” helium said. “God’s volition enactment maine present and enactment the accomplishment into the hands of the doctors and nurses truthful that I could beryllium here.”

Smethers shared his harrowing acquisition Tuesday wrong the trauma center, wherever Las Vegas Councilwoman Victoria Seaman presented a certificate of designation to the hospital, connected behalf of the council, for redeeming Smethers’ life.

“While we are present contiguous to admit your heroic enactment successful 1 peculiar case, we cognize that you are present each time redeeming lives and serving the community,” Seaman said, joined by surgeons, nurses and different infirmary staff.

Pastor assaulted astatine home

“It was idiosyncratic we knew, and retired of nowhere, helium came retired with a butcher weapon and started whaling,” Smethers said astir the March 8 onslaught successful his home.

His woman besides was determination and was capable to flight portion Smethers fended disconnected the attack. The assailant had been connected methamphetamine and was precocious sentenced for the crime, Smethers said, choosing not to get into circumstantial details astir the perpetrator.

But the onslaught near Smethers with skull and facial fractures, sliced eyelids, a punctured lung and galore stab wounds to his torso. He astir mislaid his near thumb, and the extremity of the weapon was breached disconnected into the close broadside of his skull, a remnant helium present describes arsenic “a souvenir for the remainder of my life.”

Smethers joked with paramedics successful the thoroughfare and successful the ambulance connected the mode to the hospital, saying Tuesday that wit had been an important coping mechanics successful the contiguous aftermath of the attack. He had past been a infirmary diligent erstwhile helium was 5 years aged with tonsil issues.

“So this was the archetypal clip (in a agelong time), frightened to death, and it was similar I walked into a family,” helium said. “I didn’t cognize immoderate of these people, and present they’re portion of maine forever. And it sounds benignant of corny and cheesy to say, but it’s the God-honest truth.”

‘We’ve got this’

Smethers remembers a surgeon sewing up his facial wounds and aboriginal a registered nurse, Mark Cabigon, holding Smethers’ close elbow and close hand, praying implicit him, arsenic Cabigon would bash aggregate times passim Smethers’ stay.

“He says, ‘You’re going to beryllium OK, pastor, we’ve got this,’” Smethers recalled.

Smethers said infirmary unit were diligent erstwhile helium did not privation to instrumentality his symptom oregon slumber medicine, and allowed him to locomotion the halls successful the aboriginal greeting to commune and meditate.

He said helium owed his beingness to the staff, who showed some accomplishment and compassion, from surgeons to nurses to Dr. David Fadell, who is credited with redeeming his thumb.

“This is our sole purpose, is to prevention the lives of those successful our community,” Trauma Medical Director Douglas Fraser said.

Forgiveness and appreciation

While Smethers’ carnal healing continues to fare well, helium agreed that affectional betterment volition instrumentality longer. He is seeing a scientist and has forgiven his assailant, who helium said helium hoped would person assistance for evident addiction and intelligence wellness issues.

“I got lucky,” helium said. “One, it was not a truly bully prime weapon and, two, the idiosyncratic who did it was a atrocious aim, obviously. So it could person been a batch worse.”

Smethers said his acquisition has not shaken his spiritual beliefs, and helium wished it would service arsenic a reminder to each to amusement appreciation to archetypal responders.

“I’ve heard of radical getting stabbed erstwhile oregon doubly and not making it,” helium said. “So 21 — I’m not looking for a satellite record, but that’s each the antheral upstairs there.”

Contact Shea Johnson astatine sjohnson@reviewjournal.com oregon 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ connected Twitter.

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