Baltimore resident Terry James was given just a 10% chance to live. He lost both of his legs and suffered burns on 87% of his body from a 2020 explosion in Northwest Baltimore.
James is still alive to share his story three years after his life changed.
“The thought of just life being swept away instantly from you in a blink, it’s horrific,” James told WJZ. “It’s unexplainable. Words can’t describe it. Emotions can’t describe it.”
James’ house exploded on Aug. 10, 2020.
“The tick and the boom and me catapulting in the air,” James said. “The very next thing, my memory still searches for, is me being piled in the rubble, neck high, not knowing what just happened, how it happened or if I am even going to survive.”
Video captured rescuers carefully carrying James’ still-burning body from the rubble.
“Hearing everyone screaming for help, me trying to move my limbs and [I]can’t move from the waist down, arms can barely move.”
James, a father of two, had more than 22 surgeries and a set of prosthetic legs.
James had burns so severe that, at one point, survival was not a viable option.
“God, God, God, not giving up, fighting, just not giving up on family, not giving up on chance, redemption,” James said.
James said that it has been a struggle mentally and physically, but he keeps pushing forward because of his children and his family.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be me,” he said. “Without them, I don’t think I would have the strength I have. Without them, I don’t think I’d have the mental fortitude to keep pushing.”
James moved back home with his brother for around-the-clock care.
“Once again, the doctors, firefighters, oh my gosh, I thank them every day and along with my family because with that strength and their care, it helps me [be] able to talk to you right here, to this day,” James said.
James told WJZ that every time he closes his eyes, he can’t help but get that terrifying image out of his head.
“From not getting sleep, from cold sweats of when you actually do get a blink or hour or two of sleep, from hopping up thinking you’re on fire, still thinking I have my complete limbs and can get out of the bed and just keep falling,” James said.
And sometimes rest, medicine or rehab isn’t the remedy. Sometimes, he just needs a hug.
“I’ll try my best man. I’m fighting,” James said.
James continues to push forward, overwhelmed with gratitude, and inspires every individual he encounters along the way.
It’s a chapter of resilience that’s still being written.
“A lot of times even when it don’t come, or it don’t seem like it’s coming, you just have to keep pushing and pushing for it until it’s all said and done,” James said. “And it’s not said and done for me yet so I am going to keep pushing, fighting and I am going to still be a loving individual God wants me to be and my family wants me to be.”