May 21, 2012 - Reported in myfoxatlanta.com. Printer friendly version here. Video of news story here.
Atlanta - Most of us have wondered what it will be like when we die. Is it the end, or does life go on?
For most of us, dying will be a one-shot deal. We won't know what it's like until we get there.
But FOX 5 found two Georgians who believe they've died, and yet lived.
Kathleen Hall and Tommy Thomason both believe they've had a brush with death.
For Kathleen, a Habersham County stress expert, author and animal rescuer, it happened two years ago.
In Los Angeles on business, after her flight was delayed, she got an idea.
"I am going to take a walk down Rodeo Drive and back. It is the most beautiful place," she said.
As she stepped into a crosswalk, she was hit.
"The next thing I said was ‘I'm dead. This is so interesting! I am dead,'" said Hall.
Kathleen says she was surrounded by dense white clouds. "An immediate sense of autonomy and wholeness and completeness -- love," Hall said.
Then, she says she sensed that she couldn't stay.
"And I thought, "Oh my gosh. I may be in the process of being sent back, and maybe you're supposed to plead your case! So I went, ‘Here's how it is, God,'" said Hall "Then it got really quiet again, peaceful. And then I panicked again, and said, ‘Please don't send me back! I want to be here!'… I heard, I heard sirens, I heard somebody yell, she's dead….It was just like that quick. Immediately brought back into my body."
For Tommy Thomason, a veteran sergeant with the Newton County Sheriff's office, death came calling 43 years ago. He was 19 and newly married.
"I was a brand new dad, I had a 5-month-old baby daughter and I was working at a factory here in Covington that manufactured screening wire," said Thomason.
In a split second, a short in the machine he was operating sparked and Tommy was electrocuted. "But I remember at the moment of the accident, I saw liquid colors," said Tommy. "They were vivid, vibrant, deeper, richer -- nothing that you could see here." Tommy said everything faded to black and he saw light in the distance.
"As I got closer, the light got brighter and brighter, warmer and warmer…I felt welcomed. Loved, I felt like I belonged there," said Tommy.
He remembers being on a path,
"When I first stepped out I wondered, ‘Wow! Where is this?' But then curiosity took over, and I wanted to see where the path went," said Tommy.
That's when he say he saw a foot bridge.
"I could see someone approach it from the other side. I couldn't see who it was, I could just tell it was a figure dressed in white. And iridescent, brilliant white," he said. "And then this figure looked up and it was my grandfather." His "Papa Jim" had been dead for four years.
"And he looked up and smiled at me. Just the feeling that, ‘That's my Grandpa!' And I started toward the bridge, and he spoke, but he didn't speak. I perceived the thoughts in my head," said Tommy. "He was saying, ‘No, you can't come now.'…He says, ‘You got to go back, you're not ready.' But I told him, ‘I want to come with you.' He says, ‘No you can't come now.'"
He woke in an emergency room.
Both Tommy and Kathleen were left wondering, why did they have to come back? "I was really struggling, and I had a traumatic brain injury," said Hall. "I could not understand why I came back, and I was furious."
But a year later, on a flight to Chicago, Kathleen was again surrounded by white clouds. That's when it hit her.
"I sat there and with my heart said, "What was it, what did I come back for?" And this almost whisper said, ‘Joy,'" said Hall. "And I sat on that Delta flight and just wept. And I went, ‘Joy? I thought I had to build something else or write another book or do something else.' And it wasn't about doing -- it was about experiencing pure joy for the time that I had left."
Tommy said he doesn't fear death, but is in no hurry to die.
"I feel like I've still got a lot of living left to do here," he said. "Once you cross that river, you have eternity to spend over there."
Tommy says he's still not sure why he was brought back, but soon after his accident he started training in CPR. Over the years, he's saved several lives. One of them was his former high school principal.