Rescued from the brink of death
Anastasia Cunningham, Senior Gleaner Writer
Constable Howard Augustus Dyer has earned the right to whisper 'thank you' every second of the day. Even shout it if he wants to.
If you see him lost in thought or welled up with emotion and tears rolling down his cheeks, or he just bursts into laughter, he has every right to do that too.
If he stops you to share a story, it would be nice if you could find the time 'cause he's got one hell of a story to tell.
The 43-year-old was literally brought back from the brink of death. In fact, no one expected him to be around today to share his powerful testimony.
On September 16, 2002, Dyer was involved in a terrible motor-vehicle accident along the Mandela Highway in the vicinity of Ferry, St Catherine, which resulted in the death of two persons and left him and the female occupant of the vehicle he was driving in a coma.
It was not until three months and two weeks later, in January 2003 that Dyer awoke from the coma with no recollection of what happened. But that was not the worst part.
The accident left him blind, unable to speak and crippled. He later got a stroke on the right side of his body that further complicated his condition. According to the doctors, there was no hope of recovery. And they told his mother, Inez Dyer, just as much.
Dyer eventually began to regain a little of his sight, but not much more. Transferred from the Spanish Town Hospital to the University Hospital of the West Indies and then to the Kingston Public Hospital, he was eventually discharged and sent home.
"I was so distraught not knowing what to do, but what hurt me most of all was I can remember one day I was lying in bed when the doctor came and was speaking to my mother. He said, 'Mommy, sorry to say, but you just have to face reality. Your son will not be able to walk again. He might see again, but he surely will not talk again'," he recounted.
Dyer said his mother immediately burst into tears. Seconds later his tears started to flow. But he also knew at that moment that he was going to prove those 'experts' wrong.
"Although I couldn't speak, I tried to mumble something to my mother to tell her to just humble because I will be back on my feet again," he noted.
It was from that point that the young man gained a new lease on life. The praying power of his mother, brother, sister and church family, coupled with his willpower and painfully hard work that took years, Dyer eventually made a full recovery.
Of course, he experienced several interesting events along that road to recovery. Many of them downright miraculous.
"I don't know what it is, but is like God just always on my side. If I tell you some things that happen to me and all of them just work out in my favour. It always baffle me," he marvelled, often quite emotional as he recollected the last nine years of his life.
Among his many experiences, he was saved by an unseen force from the bullet of an armed robber, who was gunned down the following day. Sued by one of the victims who was seriously injured in the accident, the judge put off the case for three years because Dyer was unfit for trial. When he returned to court at the appointed date, the judge told him the case was dismissed because the complainant had died from cancer.
One of the greatest miracles to him was getting back his manhood. Left impotent for one year and eight months, to be exact, Dyer shared the many remedies he tried, including soursop and tuna concoctions, and the tremendous joy he felt that morning when it finally regained its potency.
"I wanted a child to prove to the doctors that I was back and I could get a youth, so they said 'ok'. And I got a baby girl," he expressed with pride.
His daughter, seven-year-old Dahlia, is the youngest of his three children. His eldest is 22-year-old Kurt, followed by 11-year-old Howard Jr. Now married to his long-time girlfriend Orethea, Dahlia and Howard Jr's mother, the constable was eternally grateful to her for remaining by his side during his ordeal.
Today, if you see the 43-year-old constable, you would have no idea of where he was coming from nine years ago.
"Even me myself did not know I would be back, to even be doing this interview now," he told The Gleaner.
Back on the job at the Jamaica Constabulary Force, he has been transferred from the anti-crime division and is now stationed at Mobile Reserve on South Camp Road, Kingston.
He is hoping to one day make the officer rank and he has spent the last few years working hard at it.
Acing the two-year Police Management Course, to the amazement of his colleagues and lecturers, he graduated with honours in 2008. A bittersweet year, as it was also the year his mother died.
He smiled on remembering that his lecturers told him he created history by being the first police officer to earn 100 per cent in mathematics. Mom would have been so proud, he thought.
"It did not surprise me because I was always good in mathematics from high school," boasted the Kingston College old boy.
While he awaits word on a promotion in the force he has served since 1997, he is focusing a lot of his energy on the Bendon and Naseberry Police Youth Club he formed in his community in Kitson Town, St Catherine.
He also coaches the Ben Berry football team, comprising youth from the club.
Although not a Christian, Dyer says he tries to go to church as often as possible, but he will never stop giving God thanks for taking him through the most miraculous experience of his life.