Patrick Swayze Feels Near-Death Experience Makes Him Live Life to the Full
By Stacy Jenel Smith
Hollywood-“This has turned into one of the most wonderful periods of my life. I feel like Mary Poppins, singing to the birds and trees, lucky to by alive,” says Patrick Swayze. He feels he’s a changed man after his brush with death last May, when he was thrown off a galloping bareback horse into an oak tree during filming of “Letters from a Killer.”
Swayze credits a lifetime of dancing and gymnastics with saving him. “It would have killed me, I would have gone head first into this oak tree, if instinct hadn’t kicked in and I hadn’t grabbed two handfuls of that horse’s mane and been able to flip my body so I’d break my legs on the tree instead of crushing my skull,” says the actor. He suffered breaks in both legs (a broken femur and fibula, plus four detached tendons in his shoulder, in the accident.
Swayze, who gets his star on Hollywood Boulevard on his birthday, Aug. 18 – days before the 10th anniversary re-release of “Dirty Dancing” – reveals he’s now set for a Sept. 3 return to “Letters from a Killer.”
The script’s been rewritten to include a scene that makes his injury part of the storyline. He also acknowledges that he must not perform any more of his own stunts in the picture; that’s part of the agreement made in order to get the film’s insurance company to let him go back to work.
Meanwhile, “I lucked out that the bones broke clean, they’re going to heal perfectly, and they were able to reattach all the tendons in my shoulder. … Doctors have been blown away by my progress,” adds Swayze, who is already walking without even a cane.
Swayze also says he’s overcome a recurring nightmare in which he gets killed in the accident -by viewing the footage of it. (He still loves horses and considers the fall his own fault, not the animal’s.)
Now, “One of the things I’ve come away from this experience with is an unwillingness to put off the things that are important to me. We’re only here so long. Let’s get on with it!” he says. Swayze’s been working in supercharged fashion to make some long-awaited dreams reality. Among other things, he says he now has financing for the dance movie he and wife Lisa Niemi have been wanting to make for years.