GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the cold wind whipped through a snowy back alley near Bond Street in downtown Grand Rapids, Seth Alfaro stared at the building where his story started nearly one year ago, with a fall that almost took his life, but instead renewed his faith.
Feb. 13, 2017 was sunny and in the 60s – a perfect time for Alfaro and his three friends to break out the skateboards.
After skating around the northwest side of Ottawa Avenue, the group stopped to take photos. Alfaro thought he could get a better shot of the sunset by climbing to the top of nearby buildings. Instead of climbing back down, he jumped onto the roof below, which gave way, sending him about 25 feet down. His friends said Alfaro bounced off a furnace and landed face down on the only open slab of concrete, inches from sharp, rusty metal.
“No one should ever be able to see their friend the way we saw Seth that night, you know, bleeding out. It was not a pretty sight,” Nate Wybenga said a year ago.
His friends eventually found him and called 911, but Alfaro’s battle had only begun.
RECOVERY AND REVELATIONS
Alfaro spent weeks in the hospital. For 10 days, he lay unresponsive in a coma. Doctors stressed to his parents that if Alfaro survived, his prognosis was poor, based on the bleeding and shearing of his brain.
Despite the doctors’ doubts, Alfaro began to recover. He learned how to walk and swallow again. His doctor couldn’t keep up with how fast he was recovering.
When Alfaro, a Catholic, began speaking, he told a story of an encounter with God while comatose. What he described was strikingly similar to what a stranger had thought and prayed for him while he lay unresponsive. He was a walking miracle to some and a mystery to others. To his friends, Alfaro symbolized hope.
A YEAR LATER
A year after his fall, Alfaro stared at the building that nearly took his life.
It wasn’t his first time returning to the scene. During the dark days of his recovery, he would find his way back.
“I would just find myself here, searching for something. But I don’t know what. Maybe like answers. I don’t know,” Alfaro said as he looked up toward the roof.
He always came alone, bringing with him battles with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“(I was) playing the ‘what if’ game a little bit,” Alfaro said. “I was dealing with that a lot. I’m good now — I’m on medication, counseling, working through…