By Paige Lambert
Guests smiled and shed tears as Nathan Bloys and Cassidy Smith walked down the wedding aisle as they readied to tie the knot May 19.
Three years ago to the day, however, Nathan’s family and friends were crying for a far more serious reason.
Nathan was driving to his parents’ home during the early morning hours of May 19, 2013 when he swerved on northbound FM 1626 and hit another vehicle head on.
TJ Callis, an Austin/Travis County paramedic, was returning home from a shift when he came across the collision.
“A person there thought he was dead because he was unconscious and not breathing,” Callis said. “He looked bad, there was so much trauma to him and the car.”
Callis said he was able to find a pulse and repositioned Nathan so he could breathe again. As a lady called 9-1-1, he tried to persuade dispatch to send STARflight, he said.
“For trauma patients, there is a golden hour and survival rates diminish after an hour,” Callis said. “I told them I was a paramedic but they weren’t going to send it at first.”
Within 30 minutes a Starflight crew took Nathan to Brackenridge Hospital, Callis said.
Jodie Erickson, Nathan’s mother, was setting the table for breakfast when she received a call from Brackenridge.
“It was pure hell and agonizing,” Erickson said. “In my heart, I knew it was bad, it just started a whole chain of phone calls and people just came.”
Nathan went through about 12 surgeries in only a few months and had a metal plate secured into his skull, she said. In October, the family went home and Nathan received neurorehabilitation for the next three weeks, she said.
Around that time, an old friend of Nathan’s, Cassidy, moved back home and showed interest in his recovery, Erickson said.
“She has tremendous patience, understanding and compassion,” Erickson said. “She seemed comfortable in a very awkward situation.”
The two had known each other since seventh grade and had gone on a couple of dates during high school, Nathan said.
“It was nothing official, as far as Facebook goes,” Nathan said. “She had always shown interest in me but I tried to hide my interest in high school.”
By December, the pair went on a few dates; they made their relationship official in January, he said. Nathan said old feelings and Cassidy’s maturity drew the two together.
Nathan said six months after the collision, he realized he had to change, he had to mature.
“She had matured farther than anyone she and I knew that was our age,” he said. “And I knew she wanted to be there and help me grow up.”
They remained a couple as Nathan recovered and had their daughter, Lucy, on December 7, 2015.
Nathan said Cassidy and Lucy helped him get out of recovery mode.
“I’ve made my way and I’m trying to start a family,” Nathan said. “I’m moving forward.”
The couple quickly decided to get married on the anniversary of the accident, May 19, 2016, Erickson said.
“When they picked that day I was very reluctant,” Erickson said. “But it has replaced what was a very bad day for me.”
Nathan said he was emotional during the ceremony when he saw people who had saved his life, like Erickson and Callis.
When it was time for the vows, however, Nathan became his typical self, he said.
“I’ve grown up but you’ve still got to be funny, right,” Nathan said. “I made a lot of jokes and mentioned how even teachers were saying we should be dating.”
The wedding bells aren’t chiming anymore, but Nathan said he is on to the next step caring for his family and earning a degree.
He said Cassidy has helped him regain his life from the traumatic crash that almost snatched it away from him three years ago.
“She wasn’t judging me or the scars on my face, she was always there for me,” Nathan said. “It worked out in a perfect way.”