HUTCHINSON — At age 24, Levi Mitzner of Abbyville has endured two life-threatening experiences that left family and friends wondering if he would make it.
He was 17 when a tumor was removed from his brain.
On Aug. 1, he suffered a traumatic head injury when he crashed his motorcycle three blocks from his home.
He spent nearly 20 days in a coma at a Wichita hospital before he awoke and began a rehabilitation process that included relearning how to dress and bathe.
"Several people have been praying for me," Mitzner said.
He doesn't remember the motorcycle crash.
He remembers going to his cousin's birthday party in Arlington, about six miles south of Abbyville in Reno County, and giving his aunt a ride.
His cousin, Brandon Ehling, followed Mitzner home around midnight Aug. 1. But when Ehling reached Mitzner's house, Mitzner was nowhere to be found.
"I remember it was storming," Ehling said in a recent visit to the accident site. "The lightning lit this whole area up, and we found him lying in the field. If it wasn't for the lightning, we would have never found him."
Mitzner's motorcycle was lying in a ditch, while he was in the field at least 20 feet away. He wasn't wearing a helmet.
Emergency responders were unable to airlift Mitzner because of the storms, so he was taken by ambulance to Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis Campus.
Mitzner's parents, Robert and Lorene Mitzner, rushed from Nebraska to be at their son's side.
"We had no idea when he would wake up," Lorene Mitzner said.
The doctor told them there was no way to predict what would happen.
They remember the day they were called to their son's room, and he was sitting on the bed.
He didn't just wake up one day, though, his mother said.
"The doctors told us it wasn't going to be like the movies where, one day he could just wake up and talk again," she said. "He was semi-conscious and would come in and out."
The first thing Levi remembers is riding in an ambulance from the hospital to Our Lady of Lourdes Rehabilitation Center in Wichita, where he would spend another week recovering.
"At first, I didn't believe I had wrecked my motorcycle," he said. "Dad was the first person I believed. I felt fine."
Levi said he had trouble with his balance because he had double vision from a damaged optic nerve. While in the rehabilitation center, he practiced dressing himself and showering.
"He had more balance and comprehension problems than anything," his father said.
Levi hasn't been on a motorcycle since his accident — and he says he doesn't want to ride one again.
"Anybody who wants to ride one, especially without a helmet, can come look at his head," Robert Mitzner said, pointing to the missing hair and scars lining Levi's head.
Levi has one more semester at Hutchinson Community College to complete his degree in fire science. He wants to be a firefighter, if he can.
On Christmas Eve 2002, Levi suffered a seizure and had a brain tumor removed two days later.
During both of Levi's stays at hospitals, the Fairfield school district community, including residents of Abbyville, Arlington, Sylvia and Hutchinson, rallied to aid the family.
Lorene Mitzner won't forget the letter to Levi from a friend from Abbyville Community Church.
"It said, 'God must have a purpose for you. He saved your life twice.' "