WCTV's Inside Look at Darren Chiacchia's Injury

By: Lee Gordon Email
By: Lee Gordon Email

Over the next three days, we'll take you inside Darren's recovery as he battles back from a life altering injury that he suffered when his horse fell on top of him during the 2008 Red Hills Horse Trials.

"I remember walking down the steps of my motor home with my helmet and that is it. I remember nothing else."

The ride was just like the thousands of others Darren Chiacchia performed throughout his career. He knew the horse and the horse knew him...but then... it happened. The accident that almost took Darren's life.

"My visions are more the out of body visions. I was looking down on the whole thing.

So I do remember who was there, I do remember the poor woman who had the video camera. I did the whole thing. I was looking down the whole time."

Over the next few weeks, Darren's family kept a vigil at his bedside. His prognosis was grave. Doctors prepared the family for the worst. His family was on the verge of pulling the plug.

"I don't think you're gonna stop him and I think everybody has got to think that way," said Darren's brother Dan.

Darren was in a coma and on life support for 42 days. As he lay in a hospital bed clinging to life, his family thought this was the end. But then, Darren had a conversation with his father. Nothing unusual about that except Darren was in a coma and his dad died...five years ago.

"He said, what do you want to do? I said, I don't know and he said, you can come with me. Everything will be fine. And I said, I know. I have so much to do and he said, of course you do. And that was our last little moment."

In Ocala at the Chiacchia farms, word traveled fast. Preston Schmitz has been working for Darren for the past ten years. He still gets emotional thinking about the first moment he heard about the accident.

"You didn't know what to say, you didn't know what to think. It was personal periods of silence," said Preston Schmitz.

"You didn't know. You couldn't guess, you couldn't imagine. You just didn't know."

Frankie Simpson and her mother Janice meet with Darren for lessons at his ranch every week. They knew of Darren's fame, but didn't really know of him until they saw him in Tallahassee.

"Frankie and I were at the show, Red Hills last year when it happened and it just awful, awful day all around," said Janice Simpson.

But it's a new day, and Darren is on the road to recovery. It's a long road ahead, but considering what he's been through already, riding again will be easy.

"Whatever the alignment of the stars was that day, we need to take note because if it happens again, we all need to go to the beach or something.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Bob Kroll Location: Rochester,N.Y. on Mar 14, 2009 at 12:09 PM
    I am so very impressed with Darren's recovery.I felt so happy to see him competing at the Stuart Horse Trials in July 2008.What a come back!
  • by D.K. Location: Valdosta on Mar 11, 2009 at 09:33 AM
    I had heard about this when it happened but never got to hear the whole story. Thanks for the scoop Lee and best wishes in the recovery Darren.
  • by Ginger Location: Tallahassee on Mar 11, 2009 at 07:44 AM
    Mr. Gordon, Darren's story of his horse accident and recovery was very moving. Thank you for telling us this great story. I hope he continues to recover.
  • by Janet and Michael Location: Tallahasse, FL on Mar 11, 2009 at 07:16 AM
    Inspiring story told by a great reporter. Good combination.
  • by Javier D Location: Gainsville, FL on Mar 11, 2009 at 06:04 AM
    Great story Lee! Thanks for sharing it with us. It's nice to hear some uplifting stories with what's going on in the world.
  • by Barbara Location: Tallahassee on Mar 11, 2009 at 05:41 AM
    Great story! As a horse lover, we have followed Darren's career and we are so glad you chose to follow his recovery. Can't wait for part 2. Good luck Darren, we are all pulling for you!
  • by Anonymous on Mar 10, 2009 at 04:33 PM
    it would be nice if we knew what happened to the guy.
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