“There are days like today when I feel completely like Scott Bennett,” he posted on Facebook on Feb. 10, 2023. “And there are days I feel like the needy guy whose legs don’t work. And it’s completely OK. This is normal….to vacillate between those emotions is part of the journey and it’s OK.” [Photo courtesy of Scott Michael Bennett]
For Scott Michael Bennett, the Michigan-based Christian singer and songwriter, Jan. 21, 2023, began how many of his tour days begin. “Up at 3:30 a.m. getting ready to head to the Evergreen Church in Boardman, Ohio to preach and sing this morning,” he posted on Facebook, where he has amassed over 5,000 followers. “What they don’t know is that I am praying even while all of the church members are in slumber…for the Holy Spirit to move on their hearts and draw them closer to their Creator today as we celebrate Sabbath together,” the post continued.
At the morning concert, which doubled as a morning worship service for the Evergreen Church, Bennett was slated to share songs and stories about the purpose God has for each person. “He doesn’t want us to live life on accident, but rather deliberately and with a driven purpose,” Bennett later told the Herald in a set of written responses. “I share the testimony of how my family came into the Adventist church years ago, and it always inspires the audience to live actively for Jesus.”
However, Bennett never gave the concert in Boardman, Ohio. Instead, at 5:42 a.m., Bennett was in a car accident, which according to first responders, nearly claimed his life.
While traveling at 78 mph, he slid off the road, hit a guardrail, briefly went airborne, and landed approximately 20 feet down an embankment. “I stayed conscious during the entire impact from start to finish. I remember hitting the guardrail and specifically remember my headlights and instrument panel lights staying on initially. And then there was a loud and violent impact and all the lights shut off at that point,” Bennett said.
Nobody had seen Bennett leave the road, and in the post-snowstorm darkness that blanketed northeastern Ohio, he quickly lost his orientation. “At that point I knew my survival was up to me,” he said. Bennett called 911 using Siri, the Apple voice assistant on the iPhone. Dispatchers were able to pinpoint his location, and an Ohio state trooper responded to the call for help. “He came into the minivan via the passenger side, saw my injuries, and immediately ran back to his squad car to get a tourniquet. He returned and said to me, ‘This will hurt more than anything you’ve ever felt, but I have to do this or you’re going to bleed out and die.’ So he applied the tourniquet and it was indeed incredibly painful but it likely saved my life.”
Bennett’s injuries were considered “catastrophic”, and he was airlifted to a trauma center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “I had an open fracture (break through the skin) of my right femur. I also had a calf avulsion on my right leg as well,” he said. “Basically, my calf muscle and tissue were completely out of my skin as the skin had been removed by sharp metal during the impact. My left tibia and fibula were both broken through the skin as well. I remember seeing my foot underneath the gas pedal of the van and realizing my leg was broken.”
Heather Bennett recalls being suddenly awoken by her cell phone vibrating on her nightstand. “It was 6:00 a.m. and it said it was Scott calling. When Scott didn’t respond…I immediately thought, ‘Oh, he’s helping someone out again.’ He does this often when traveling. I thought, he just wants me on the line just in case something was to happen.”
But rather than hearing Scott’s voice, she heard the voice of a first responder, who then told her to immediately get to the trauma center in Fort Wayne. “As my dad and I drove the two and a half hours to the hospital I had no idea if he was alive or dead. All I could do was plead with the Lord to save my husband,” she said.
At one point, Heather asked herself, “What am I doing?” “Yes, God can hear the prayers of a woman pleading for the life of her husband, but maybe I needed reinforcement,” she said. “I immediately threw it out to the prayer warriors on Facebook. I kept thinking of the Bible verse where it talks about where two or three are gathered in his name, there he is also. I clung to the comments of people saying they were praying…knowing that there were two or three gathered all over the states praying for Scott.”
As Heather arrived at the hospital, she was told by the hospital’s chaplain that he had been talking to the nurses. “That was all I needed to hear at that point. I knew he was alive!”
Once the airlift dropped Bennett off at the trauma unit, the orthopedic surgeons began a set of emergency surgeries that would continue well into the following week. “They were able to successfully treat multiple severe lacerations, they inserted a full titanium rod in my tib/fib knee to ankle, another rod from the pelvis to knee in my right femur, as well as stitched up my lacerations and stapled many of them. I had 24 staples in addition to dozens of sutures,” he said.
Bennett’s damaged blood vessels also had to be surgically repaired. For two weeks, physicians had to check his pulse multiple times a day to ensure that blood was successfully flowing and that the repairs had worked.
“I lost a total of 5 units of blood and needed that many transfusions,” Bennett said. “But in spite of the severity of my leg injuries, God’s fingerprints were all over me because of the prayers of thousands of people and churches around the world.” Bennett credits a series of successful medical interventions to the prayers of tens of thousands around the world. “The fact that the surgeries all had a 100% success rate is a miraculous answer to prayers being lifted up on my behalf. So many complications could have arose during and after these surgeries that just didn’t happen.”
Against the odds, Bennett never developed necrotic tissue in his wounds (a medical condition in which there are dead cells in a body organ), even though doctors expected him to develop the condition. “I also had remarkable success with my wound vac. Many times wound vacs (which actively pull and pump away draining fluids from traumatic wounds) will clog if the wound isn’t healing well,” he said. If these wound vacs do not work properly, additional incision and drainage “cleaning” surgeries are required, a procedure that resets the “recovery clock”.
“Thankfully I had only a total of 4 surgeries, two to fix and repair my legs, and two I and D procedures. This was literally a ‘best case’ scenario with my trauma and we are thankful for the prayers. I’m convinced they are the reason for my situation these past days.”
For the Bennett family, the blessings have extended beyond Scott’s recovery. In addition to the catastrophic injuries that Bennett experienced, the family also lost their only working vehicle. Generous friends rented the family a car for the short term, however, the need for a suitable long-term vehicle quickly became apparent.
“My rehab schedule is a little too busy for me to look for vehicles, so we asked the Pemberton family if they’d be willing to van hunt for us,” Bennett posted on Facebook on Feb. 1, 2023. “In one day, they found a reasonably priced van…right here locally. After hearing the story of our current situation, the dealership sold it to us for thousands below their listed priced, never tried to upsell on warranties or accessories, and wished us the best with my recovery.”
In addition, several individuals worked to renovate Bennett’s fixer-upper house in preparation for his discharge date.
“While we were in the hospital, Tony and Sue Smith drove from Pennsylvania to take care of our two girls at home. Our home was smack dab in the middle of renovations,” Bennett said. “We were living on plywood floors with no flooring, no vanities in the bathrooms, no baseboard or door trim. No window curtains. We only had one shower, the walls in the girl’s bathroom needed drywall, we had no stove or oven, no upper cabinets, and sad old lower cabinets. But we were slowly getting there and happy to be in our own home.”
Because Smith was staying at the house, he decided to complete the renovations, as well as make the house wheelchair accessible.
A few days into the project, a team was formed to assist in completing the extensive repairs. “Together, this team built me a ramp to our entrance door, laid carpet throughout the house, laid all the vinyl plank flooring, installed vanities in both bathrooms, installed a walk-in shower in the girl’s bathroom, installed upper kitchen cabinets, repainted and updated the hardware on the lower cabinets, put in a pantry, installed a stove and oven, installed a dishwasher, and installed a new kitchen faucet.” In addition, they installed trim and furnished the house.
Home Depot also extensively discounted all the materials. Another member of the team used his company tool truck for the trip from Pennsylvania to Michigan. “When he returned home, he offered to pay his boss for the truck mileage and tolls for the trip. His boss refused reimbursement and just said it was ‘his contribution to the cause.’”
“They did all of this without us knowing what they were up to,” Bennett said. “When we came through the door of our house, we were speechless. There are no words to describe the shock and the awe that we experienced coming through that entrance door.”
In addition, hundreds of donations continue to pour into the Bennett family’s household. “The support has been unbelievable. We know that everyone has their own busy lives, and the fact that so many people stopped their day-to-day activities just to help us has been really emotional,” Heather said. “When we cannot carry the weight of life on our own we have found an army of friends and family carrying us through. For that we will be forever grateful!”
“There are days like today when I feel completely like Scott Bennett,” he posted on Facebook on Feb. 10, 2023. “And there are days I feel like the needy guy whose legs don’t work. And it’s completely OK. This is normal….to vacillate between those emotions is part of the journey and it’s OK.”
Bennett says that the recovery process is scheduled to take between nine months and one year. “My medical team is wanting me to pause and let the wounds and bones heal for about three weeks. At that point, it will be 5 weeks since the accident and at that point I’ll be fully enrolled in a physical therapy rehabilitation program focusing on my right leg.” At that point, he’ll also be able to bear weight on his right leg.
“Once I have retrained my muscles to activate my right leg and learn to stand on it and walk with it, I’ll be able to graduate to a walker. From there I’ll work towards crutches. My left leg will be non-weight bearing for another month or more,” Bennett said. Surgeons have told Bennett that the best-case scenario is that the bone would heal across the large gap of bone in his left leg.
“If the bone heals across this gap on its own, I will not need further surgeries on that area. If it doesn’t, I’ll need a bone graft surgery and a possible skin graft or plastic surgery to repair the wound,” he said. “We are praying for no more surgeries at this point. Once that leg heals, the ortho team will give me the ‘all clear’ to bear weight, and I’ll be learning to truly walk again without an assist device.”
In addition to these challenges, Bennett, who was the Partnership Music Director for It Is Written Ministries until 2023, has also made the decision to indefinitely suspend his full-time music ministry. It’s a decision that he says was bound to come. The accident simply hastened its onset.
“Our music ministry started to morph into a situation where I was gone a lot and my family was home or at the bus, and my kids were not OK with Daddy being gone so much,” he said. “I made the decision to start dialing back our music ministry in an effort to restore sanity and solitude back into our family. The first step in this process was the very painful decision to leave my post at It Is Written Television.”
Bennett will also be suspending touring indefinitely. “Our ideal situation is that we will be home from June until February, and then go on tour to give our own personal concerts at churches in March, April, and May. I would also like to record more music and more albums, and this will give me the time and sacred space to do so.”
“Now everything is on hold until my wounds finally heal…It’s a faith journey that only God knows the destination to,” Bennett said.
Bennett had previously started a small business—painting rustproof undercoating on cars and trucks. The business was successful, and he hopes to continue growing that business now that he will be home.
Amidst the initial instability, Bennett says that his relationship with God has not only deepened. He’s also become entirely dependent on Him. “When you endure and survive a trauma like this, your connection with God becomes very real, very tangible,” he said. “I have found myself in deep prayer conversations with my Father daily...way more than before the accident. I talk to Him about everything. When I cry, I talk to Him...when my pain is managed and I’m feeling so good, I talk to Him. When I wake up, I talk to him...it’s just this non-stop flowing conversation that continues day to day. I can’t imagine how people go through trauma like this without faith.”
While he says the “slowdown” is well worth it, Bennett knows it will still be an adjustment from the status quo. “Honestly, I’m not good at living slower paced. It’s just not in my genetics. I’m always working on multiple things at once and always have a lot of plates spinning at any given time. People think that because I only give concerts on weekends, that I’m on vacation during the week, but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said, referring to the extensive planning that must take place while he tours, as well as the other operations that ensured his music ministry ran smoothly.
“Adjusting to a slower-paced will likely be one of the greater challenges for me as I heal, but my desire to be active will also drive my efforts to get better quickly,” Bennett said. “Staying as active physically as I can will help me recover sooner. I do remind myself that the slower pace is going to allow us to be more deliberate with connecting with our girls. They are at the age where every minute spent with them is molding them into better people who will learn to love God and love others. Spending deliberate time with my wife is going to bless our marriage and spending more deliberate time with God is going to strengthen our bond too. So at the end of the day, having time to smell the roses is only going to increase the fragrance of our family and allow us to create memories that will last a lifetime.”
Since the time of writing, Bennett has begun physical therapy and rehabilitation. “I’ll be engaging in this three times a week for the next couple of months,” he said in a Facebook post at the end of February. “But friends, you are going to see your prayers for me answered in front of your eyes. I’ll work as hard as I can, and the rest will be the Creator Himself sending strength to every sinew in my body.”
However, Bennett also faces a step back in his treatment plan.
Orthopedic trauma surgeons determined that he will need to have bone graft surgery on his left tib fib, where there was an open fracture. “We were hoping I’d be that tiny percentage of people whose nonunion fracture heals through and over the antibiotic cement spacer currently installed. But latest images revealed zero bone growth there.” After the surgery, Bennett will still have to be non-weight bearing on his left leg for an indeterminant amount of time. The incision wound also must heal, something that will be difficult because of the extensive wound trauma that is already healing.
His bone graft surgery is also dependent upon the existing wound's healing. The large wound caused by the open fracture has mostly closed, but a small nickel-sized portion of the wound has struggled to heal. “It was a violent event … a quarter sized piece of my bone was thrown out of my leg and onto the floor of the van, and high velocity blood spatter was on the passenger door. We now have been assigned a wound care specialist/hyperbaric physician who is … checking and debriding the wound.”
Several other issues have sprung up, including a potential knee repair surgery, additional bone graft, and muscle injuries. Depending on how extensive his further treatment is, it will be at least a year before Bennett can walk without aid, and two years before he can get back to running. “Let me be clear that I will work hard to beat all their timelines…but I also can’t make bones and wounds heal dramatically faster than they naturally do. I am having to engage in the most profound patience I have ever required in my life.”
The journey thus far has strengthened his relationships with his family and with God, he said. “I am eternally grateful for all of the incredible blessings we’ve received during this little hiccup in our lives. I can assure you, my relationship with my family and with my Creator have cemented stronger than before. Our faith is very real now in ways better than before.”
Bennett continues to ask for prayer for his healing, as well as for his family as they care for him. “I desperately want to stand up and walk out of this wheelchair,” he said. “I have dreams at night that I’m getting up and walking again … I want this so so desperately. So when any setbacks in healing tweak with the timeline in my head, I struggle to accept them. God is using this to train me to be patient, calm, and flexible. He is good. So good to us. And we love Him for it.”
Samuel Girven is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Cadillac, Michigan.