Unbreakable Heart -- A News 11 Special Report

Tim Berta
Tim Berta

Rob Berta, father of Bluffton bus crash survivor Tim Berta, told News 11's Jerry Anderson, "I think probably the first thing I'll think about that morning is what I was doing a year ago."

The morning that, in an instant, Rob and Karen Berta almost lost their son.

"We didn't lose our son like they did -- some of the other families -- but we did lose him. We lost a piece of him."

The Tim that remained was severely brain injured, uncommunicative. But tonight, he'll tell you what was going on inside that head in those days.

And the Tim that remained had a determination that no one, not even his parents, could have expected.

You live with what if, what if -- what if this is as good as it gets? But Tim just keeps going forward, going forward, going forward," his parents say.

Tim was going forward and going home. By summer, he was out of the hospital, talking and amazingly, standing. Today, less than a year after a catastrophe that changed his life, Tim Berta is again walking. His improvement, and the miracle, continues.

"It's not too fast, but I can improve day by day," he said. In fewer than 365 of those days, Tim has come so far. The coordination is coming back. The drooling we saw in the summer is gone.

More memories are returning, too, but none of the accident. Tim now says he remembers our first visit last spring when we saw no signs of recognition. And he can now share with us, with you, what it's like to be trapped in there, in an injured brain, unable to communicate. "I was wondering what was going on with me and why I was in there. I asked my mom, and I said ... meaning what is wrong with my body?"

Tim now admits, being trapped in there, he felt frustrated and scared. "It was scary because being in the hospital you think anything could have happened."

How do you go from there to here in less than a year?

Maybe he got further than so many thought possible because of the grit he showed when Jerry asked him, "Along the way, have you thought 'This is it. I can't go any further.'?"

"No. Not at all. Not at all. Never."

For Rob and Karen, every day of the past year has brought new challenges. Physical work, long days, huge emotions. "Thankfulness, sadness, tiredness, hopefulness, thankfulness," they explained. To get through their days, they lean on each other. Their faith, they say, has gone to a new level as they approach 33 years of marriage.

They didn't really think a year ago in Atlanta, when their only son was so close to leaving, that karen could be playing, and losing, chess to her 23-year old who began playing in first grade.

The Bertas want you to know they're still adjusting, that they can't say enough how much everyone's support has helped them and is appreciated. Their respites from this new, year-long reality, are fleeting.

"Sometimes you wake up, and it's new all over again. For that instant, you forget that it happened. Then you remember all over again that it did."

And what of one year from now?

"I will, by this time next year, be going to a new college and working on my occupation," Tim said.

You can bet against him if you want, but Jerry says, "Let me warn you. You're betting against a miracle."

Posted by LS