Sitting on the patio of a local restaurant, John Dodd, resident of Page and employee at a resort in southern Utah, described how he went from “dead to dad.”
As incredible as it may sound, Dodd’s life completely changed when he and his longtime friend Bill visited southern Utah in the summer of 2020, resulting in his calling Page, Arizona, home.
Bill and Dodd were on a five-week, 4,000-mile trip exploring the national parks and public lands in the southwest.
One day in August 2020, they decided to hike in Zion National Park. While they were hiking, Dodd started to feel unwell and stopped hiking.
They found lodging in nearby La Verkin so Dodd could rest. Around 10 p.m., he felt even worse, and an ambulance took him to the hospital in St. George.
He remembered being taken from the ambulance to the hospital, but he remembered little of the next seven days.
In fact, for two minutes, he was clinically dead. The doctors thought he would be lucky to evade brain damage or even be able to walk after the coma.
Dodd said that people had “given him up for dead.” As word got to his family and friends, many came to visit him in the hospital in St. George, hoping he would wake up while they were there, and spending as much time as they could with him. Bill stayed in St. George for 21 days until he was released.
When Dodd woke up from the coma seven days later, he had his full wits about him. He walked to the door of his hospital room, the first time he’d seen the room, and asked why there was a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order on the door.
As he realized what had happened, he understood the need for it and asked if it were possible for it to be removed, which it was.
After recovering, Dodd discovered Page in September 2020 and instantly fell in love with the scenery. Originally from North Carolina, he happened to meet Carrie, also from North Carolina, at a local barbecue restaurant.
They fell in love, and Judge Donald Roberts married them under a tree near the courthouse. Their son Banner was born just over a year ago and has become well known at Page Public Library and elsewhere in town.
In his previous life, Dodd managed an REI store in Atlanta, Georgia, for 25 years. Previously, he had sold vacuum cleaners and cars. He rubbed elbows with the “rich and famous.” He said he “can’t worry about the future and take chances in the present.” He loves his job at the resort helping other people enjoy the area and have a great time.
Dodd said that people hear of near-death stories, but he believes he actually died and came back to life. One of his memories from the coma was a super-bright, clean light and a sense of serenity.
He believes that to be the moment just before he came back to life. There were no conversations with God or any other memories. The newfound serenity has continued to prevail in his new life, post-heart attack.
He is more at peace now. He finds himself more lenient and accepting of others. He admits he used to basically be a good guy but “sometimes an ass.”
The bad side vanished after recovering from a heart attack. He notices colors, motion and what goes on around him more than he used to and is empathetic to what other people are going through. In a way, it is a new awakening for Dodd, a new way of looking at life.
Bill ended up moving to Page and works at the same resort. In his free time, Dodd and his family enjoy exploring public lands in southern Utah as much as his two-wheel-drive SUV will allow. Dodd loves living in Page and believes it is a great place to raise a family. He is writing a book about his experience called “From Dead to Dad.”
Dodd wants to travel the world and experience life. As he said on the restaurant patio, “I died already once. and now I get to raise a kid” in an area he loves. He is devoted to his family and son. Dodd had a great dad and said, “If I could be half the dad my dad was, I’ll be doing great.”
“Faces of Page” is a feature that appears periodically in the Lake Powell Chronicle. The author prefers to write about people who are not well known in the area and have an interesting story to tell. To suggest a “Face of Page,” please email Phil Clark at [email protected] and put “Faces of Page” in the subject line.