It’s been two months since Nikki Lewis’s life turned upside down on a beach in Maui, where she was boogie boarding with her new husband when a wave knocked her head into the ocean floor breaking her neck in two places.
Since then she’s undergone surgery, worked to get off a ventilator and trained to regain the use of her arms and legs. But through it all, her number one request was to track down the man who helped save her life.
Chad Harkins had also been on the beach that day. In town for work, the trained EMT said he and a friend had stopped by to catch a quick glance of the ocean. He was only a few steps in when he heard screams and found Will Lewis pulling his wife from the water with her brothers doing all they could to help.
While Lewis initially resisted a stranger trying to interfere with their efforts to save his wife, the protective husband quickly realized that Harkins had the skills necessary to save his wife by stabilizing her neck until the ambulance arrived.
“The whole entire scenario leading up to the accident, all the things that have happened and occurred… I wish the accident wouldn’t have happened, obviously, but God put all the right people in the right place at the right time,” said Nikki Lewis.
But once they left for the hospital, they lost track of Harkins. Lewis’s family used social media and the news for weeks to try to track down the mystery man who jumped in to help when they needed it most.
Eventually they tracked him down in Arizona. And then Tuesday, on the night Nikki thought she was pulling off a surprise birthday party for her husband, she found the tables had turned. Instead she was the one being surprised with a face to face meeting with the man who saved her life.
“To actually have him here in person and to be able to talk through what happened and to be able to close that raw chapter and to be able to start the new chapter with our friendship is important,” said Lewis.
For Harkins, it was an equally emotional moment. He said not a day has gone by that he hasn’t thought about those moments and reflected on what strangers were able to accomplish working together.
“I just think with everything going on in the world the way things are, humans are humans and humanity is humanity and it will always prevail,” said Harkins.
It was a perfect union in the midst of Nikki’s greatest storm. And while some may call it coincidence, she believes it’s something much greater.
“I call that God. Right place. Right time. He had everything in place to make sure I was going to be taken care of,” said Lewis.
While Nikki remains in rehab, doctors say they’re hopeful she’ll make a full recovery.