Russellville's 'walking miracle'

By Staff
Rebecca James, Franklin County Times
Russellville resident Doc James Hafey is truly a walking miracle.
On the way home from his mother's funeral in Florida on August 18, 2002, Hafey was involved in a one-car automobile accident that almost cost him his life.
"I had just left my mother's funeral and I ran off the road and hit a something," Hafey said. "Immediately, my truck was engulfed in flames."
Emergency personnel tried everything to save Hafey but he was declared dead on the scene.
"They took me away in a body bag, but little did they know that I wasn't dead," Hafey said, "They were transporting me to the morgue. When I woke up in the body bag, it freaked the emergency personnel out. They changed course and took me to the hospital."
When he woke up in the hospital, Hafey had no memory of what had happened and couldn't remember anything about himself.
"When I left the hospital, I had no memory, and had nothing," Hafey said. "Considering how severely burned I was, it didn't make sense that I was still alive."
Four years later, Hafey found himself in front of Judge Sharon Hester.
"I told Judge Hester whatever sentence she gave me would be a blessing to me," Hafey said.
"She looked at me like I was crazy."
Hester sentenced him to a 12-step program in Florence.
"I got lost on the way back from the program and found myself in front of Max Russell's guitar store," Hafey said.
"Something told me I should go in and when I did it was like I was in the twilight zone."
Little did Hafey know that the simple trip into the music store would unlock a lot of memories for him.
"When I walked into Max's Music, memories started rushing back at me," Hafey said. "I was overwhelmed and I had to sit down."
Hafey got to talking about music with owner Max Russell, and the more he did, the more the memories came flooding back.
Through some strange coincidence, they got to talking about blues musician Coco Montoya.
"The name sounded so familiar to me, and he pulled up his website and showed me a picture of him," Hafey said.
"I knew he looked familiar to me, and I knew I should know him, but I wasn't sure why."
Those feelings led Hafey to one of Montoya's concerts.
"When I saw him, I knew why I knew him. I had grown up with him and he was like a brother to me," Hafey said.
"He was shocked to see me. Both of us just stood there with tears running down our faces."
Catching up with Montoya has really helped Hafey to remember.
"Little pieces keep coming back at me," Hafey said. "I keep remembering things that I did before the accident, I even remembered that I had been a musician prior to the accident."
Hafey now has his music career back on track, and is planning to release an album with Max Russell and his son later this year.
"People call me a walking miracle, and it really is a miracle that I'm alive," Hafey said. "This whole experience really has been a spiritual one for me, and if it wasn't for Judge Sharon Hester and Max Russell, I might not be where I am right now."

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