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Despite loss of leg, Army veteran finds fun in golf


May 05, 2015

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Christopher Hegy served in the Army 1st infantry division in West Germany back in 1989. It was there that his life changed forever, but that change had nothing to do with combat.

Hegy grew up in a military home, where his father served as an operator on the crew for the C-130 Hercules. Being in that environment, it is easy to see why Hegy had such a strong desire to enlist and serve his country.

"From the time I was in the sandbox, I was playing with plastic soldiers and building forts out of shoeboxes," Hegy said.

Their home was only 20 minutes away from the Military Airlift Command in O'Hare, where C-130s constantly flew in formation across the sky.

"As a little kid, that is just awesome to see," Hegy said. "I told my father, 'Some day I want to jump out of those.'"

In 1985, Hegy's dream of Army duty was a reality, when he was stationed in Germany to train during peace time.

Four years later, that military dream was shattered, but not by the enemy.

Hegy was serving in the town of Göppingen, Germany, and had just finished getting coffee with his girlfriend and some of his friends. The coffee shop was in the heart of the town, where a nearby beer festival was going on.

"I got on my bike and was the first one at the light," Hegy recalled. "A drunk pedestrian stumbled backward into my lane. I knew if I hit the brake and laid down the bike, I probably would have mowed her over, either killing or severely injuring the woman, and I might have been ran over by the guy behind me if he wasn't paying attention. In my mind, the best option was to veer left into the oncoming lane."

The plan didn't quite work out the way he had hoped, as he and the pedestrain were stuck in motion, moving the same direction.

"All she had to do was stay still or walk back the way she came and everything would have been fine. Instead, she somehow turned around 180 degrees and tried to run across the rest of the street, forcing me farther left," Hegy said.

Eventually he ran out of room, clipping the side of his bike.

"From that point on, I was just on for the ride with my right arm off the bars and my center of gravity off balance. Even worse, the throttle was stuck in the full open position," Hegy said.

Hegy collided with a large, cobblestone building at a 45-degree angle.

"I took a huge chunk of stone out of it, and the overhang cracked my helmet in a bunch of pieces," Hegy said. "The bike sandwiched my whole left side on impact, breaking my femur and severing my Femoral artery. My kneecap also broke into about seven pieces, along with several other problems."

Hegy had to spend years in the hospital, where doctors were actually able to save his leg. Yet, he was told that his military career was over.

"The day I had to leave the military was the hardest day of my life," Hegy said. "I had planned on being a lifer, wanting to serve for 30 years."

Having that dream taken from him took a huge toll, and when combined with the PTSD from his injuries and from having to spend two years in the hospital, Hegy went through a dark period where he tried to take away his own life.

With the help of doctors, Hegy was able to push forward and continue with his life. But 16 years later, after all the surgeries, his leg finally gave out.

"When the time came to lose it, I didn't have any hard feelings. Instead I was thankful for the time I had with it that I did," Hegy said.

Eight years after his amputation, Hegy is living life to the fullest, and that includes golfing.

"The follow-through is the hardest part because my knee doesn't flex the way it should. It can throw me off," Hegy said. "Sometimes, especially on the tee box, it will look like 'America's Funniest Videos' because I'll end up putting too much into my swing and the forward momentum will make me fall down."

But that doesn't stop him from having fun out on the course and making new friends, especially now that his 71 surgeries are in the rear-view mirror.

"Just because you have an accident doesn't mean that you have to put the emergency brake on forever in life," Hegy said. "Even considering my injuries, I would not give it up for the world."

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