SYLVANIA, OH (Toledo News Now) – It has been 5 years since the Bluffton baseball team was involved in a horrific bus crash in Atlanta, Georgia.
Berta was sitting in the front of the Bluffton University baseball team bus when it crashed in the pre-dawn hours of March 2nd. The students had been on their way to Sarasota, Fla., to play in a double-header with Eastern Mennonite University before heading to Ft. Myers to participate in the Gene Cusic Classic baseball tournament.
Atlanta Police spokesman Joe Cobb says the driver apparently mistook an exit lane for part of the carpool lane. When that lane ended in a "T" intersection, the bus continued over the side of the overpass, tumbled over a fence and guard rail, and landed on its left side.
The crash killed four players and the bus driver and his wife that day. Another player died a week later. Several people, including the team's coach and several players, were hospitalized in Atlanta.
We have all followed Tim Berta's story since March 2, 2007, and his journey has been an amazing tale of survival.
When we met the Ida, Michigan resident in May 2007, he was weak, and hardly able to lift his head without help. His brain injury was so severe that he couldn't walk or talk.
"I knew I was in the hospital. I could assume that ‘cause of me being in the bed, and the nurses around, but I had no clue how I got there, what happened, or where I was even at," Tim explained.
For Karen and Rob Berta, Tim's parents, the low point came when Tim got a form of pneumonia yet needed life-saving surgery. "It was very unnerving to sign that form from the doctor," Rob Berta said, "And on it, it says 'possible outcome -- death.'"
Doctors said he wouldn't walk, drive, or graduate, but Berta refused to give up. He re-learned everything, and slowly began to recover.
Along with the rest of the world, Berta is amazed at how far he has come.
"I don't know that I could capture what it does for me. Like for example, when I leave here today I will walk to my car and drive home and then, maybe get a glass of water. And that is unreal to me. Especially after they told me I would not," said Berta.
Today, Tim is an assistant coach for the Lourdes University Timberwolves. He works with the catchers, and says just being around "the guys" has meant everything to him.
"You know, I can't throw in batting practice. I can't do anything like that, but… Lourdes University gave me the chance to come back, and be a part of the game that I love." Berta emotionally explained.
Tim's life is now centered around the Lourdes University campus in Sylvania. After earning his undergraduate degree in biology at Bluffton in 2009, he has been accepted to the master's program in organizational leadership at Lourdes.
Every day is a blessing for Berta. He does not look back, and he does not feel sorry for himself. He wants to prove that he is more than just a "survivor."
"I'm supposed to be dead, but, so I am enjoying my life right now and I am enjoying the gift I've been given, and because I know a lot of other parents and families of the kids who died, they'd love to have their kids in a wheelchair, or they'd love to have them laying in bed, not able to do anything! And so I'm doing my best to honor them with the way I live my life," said Berta.
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