January 10, 2012 - Reported in amarillo.com - Darren Mooneyham, like many who creep into their 40s, felt that mid-life void and wondered what it all meant, where he was headed, as he and wife Kristal raised two children in a Christian home. He had sold his successful fishing lure company, Mad Man Lures, in 2006, but the hustle and excitement then seemed to vanish.
“At the end of the day, I’m thinking, ‘Man, is this it?’” he said. “Is this all there is to life, just the mundane day-to-day grind, doing the same thing over and over?” He delved into the scriptures and discovered wise old Solomon at one point felt exactly the same way. “Even though I was fairly successful at what I had done,” he said, “I’m still thinking, am I valuable? Is there more to life than I think there is?”
The answer was a resounding yes, though it took a horrific wreck and a hospital room visit by angels for him to know that. The first is easily provable, and the second Mooneyham knows to be true, and he couldn’t care less if you think he’s crazy. Mooneyham, who played football at Tascosa, Panhandle State, Abilene Christian and West Texas A&M, was good enough to bass fish on and off professionally in his younger years.
On Dec. 12, 2009, he took friend Will Bivins, son of late state Sen. Teel Bivins, on a fishing trip to Falcon Lake. About 15 miles south of San Angelo, a welding truck going north had a blowout and went careening into Mooneyham’s one-ton Dodge truck and 20-foot boat that were heading south. The man in the other truck was killed, and the passenger critically injured. Bivins was able to walk out of a San Angelo hospital an hour later. As for Mooneyham, his left side was basically crushed. He shattered his femur, tibia, fibula, hip and ankle and nearly severed his left arm.
San Angelo doctors induced a coma and essentially saved his leg before he was airlifted to Baylor Medical Center in Dallas four days later. He had been at Baylor about a month, gone through five surgeries and was beginning rehab and slow progress. Then he developed a staph infection and had to go back into surgery. He remembers being very depressed, very frustrated, when a bright light flooded his room around 2 a.m. on a January 2010 night. You can choose to believe the rest or not. It matters not to Mooneyham, who is about as down-to-earth and level-headed as they come.
“I could paint a picture of them right now,” Mooneyham told a small group of men last week. He saw eight angels, four on the left near the foot of his bed, four on the right. They were 7 feet tall, with one’s head even with the mounted television on the wall. He said they were dressed like Roman warriors, with huge arms, breastplates, and wings tucked tightly behind them. “I pinched myself to make sure I was awake,” Mooneyham said. “I said, ‘My name is Darren.’ One of the leaders sort of looked at the other one, and then looked back at me, and I thought, ‘I guess you know that.’ They never said another word, and I went back to sleep.”
A dream, you say. A painkiller-induced haze, maybe. Or actually angels among us. “I was never skeptical,” said Kristal, an Amarillo realtor, “because Darren is not the type to ever tell something that vividly and be so overwhelmed and convinced of God’s protection if he’s not 100 percent sure.” The experience, he said two years later, was as real as hugging his son Brock in the morning. He knows what he saw.
“My wife would watch those ghost hunter shows and I’d go, ‘bull,’” he said. “I would be the last person who you would think would see something like that. But I was there, I was awake, and it was real as me talking to you.” The experience immediately changed Mooneyham — his attitude, his personality, his ambition. The message he takes is one of protection. “So many times we’re not in control,” he said. “It’s like we’re here, fighting for you. The message was, ‘don’t let your puny mind think we’re not.’”
The wreck necessitated 14 surgeries, three months of rehab at Baylor and nine more in Amarillo. He spent nine months wearing an Ilizarov frame on his leg, an external fixator with rings attached to bone and rods that stretch the leg. Now, Mooneyham said he still has a “pretty good limp” but doesn’t even take ibuprofen. His left forearm gets tired and his fingers sometimes numb, but that’s it. His purpose, he’s convinced, is to glorify God and his kingdom. The accident, he said, God didn’t cause, but allowed. And two years later, he’s better because of it.
“I never asked why it happened, and that may seem weird,” Mooneyham said. “Sometimes I wish God would just give me an outline. But I know I’m here for a reason, and I know what that reason is. And the thing is, we don’t know the hour or the minute. We’re not here very long. We’re just a vapor.”