OMAHA, Neb. — His family said goodbye to Jose Barajas, 46, not once but twice this summer following a workplace accident at the city of Omaha Street Maintenance yard."I just thank God I'm alive. I thank Him so much because I know without Him, I wouldn't be here right how," said Barajas.
Barajas and his wife, Maria, are a family of faith, and they said prayers pulled them through this difficult time.
"We started praying and praying. I told my friends and everybody, 'Please start praying for Jose,'" Maria Barajas said. on July 29, Barajas, a 10-year employee of the city, found himself pinned between two pieces of heavy machinery in the Streets Maintenance yard at 96 and F streets.
"It was a bad crush injury," he said. Barajas managed to free himself and call for help before collapsing. "We seen him almost die on us the first day we were there," said Maria Barajas. Barajas spent two months in the hospital.
"It was like two to three times we thought we were going to lose him," she said. "That day his family was here from California and I told them to come inside to say goodbye to Jose because I don't think we're going to keep him."
Barajas was in and out of a coma and on a ventilator as surgeons tried to repair his massive internal injuries. He lost several organs, including a kidney and spleen.
"I keep thinking I am in a dream and I can't wake up out of the dream. It was so hard, " Maria Barajas said. She never left her husband's side. She slept in his room every night.
"She was there. Every time I looked over, she was there. That was a comfort for me," Jose Barajas said.
While the father of five fought to stay alive, his fellow city employees showed their love and support. Outside the hospital, they lined up big city trucks and made signs, letting Barajas know they were praying for him.
"It was beautiful. It was so beautiful, showing their support to us," Maria said.
Finally, doctors released Barajas, who was strong enough to recover at home with physical therapy. He uses a walker now, but grateful the accident caused minor fractures to his spine and ribs. "We have him here, and no matter what, he's a miracle. He's a miracle walking," Maria said. Barajas believes he's a miracle too.
"For sure I'm a miracle," he said. "I just know it." Friends set up a GoFundMe account for the Barajas family to help offset the rising medical bills.
The city of Omaha sent us this statement from Deb Sander, Director of Human Resources:
"The City of Omaha is committed to safety and training and providing a safe work environment for all of our employees. This matter is currently under investigation to determine the cause of the accident and identify whether proper safety protocols are in place. The City is currently working with Mr. Barajas' attorney to obtain information from Mr. Barajas relevant to the accident. Upon obtaining said information, the City will determine if any additional investigatory actions are necessary."