February 18, 2020

I Did Not Die. I Did Not Go to Heaven.

“Kevin and Alex Malarkey were alone together when the accident happened. It was November 2004, and the Malarkeys had moved to rural Huntsville, Ohio, from suburban Columbus just weeks earlier. The family was struggling financially, and Kevin and his wife, Beth, wanted to pursue a quieter life. Beth had given birth to their fourth child a few days before. Six-year-old Alex was the oldest of the bunch. He and his father went to church that Sunday morning, just the two of them.

On the drive home, Kevin answered a call on his cellphone just as he approached an intersection with a blind spot that locals knew to fear. He didn’t see the other car coming. Kevin was thrown from his vehicle but was unhurt. Alex was taken in a helicopter to Columbus Children’s Hospital. (The occupants of the other car were not seriously injured.) Alex had suffered an “internal decapitation”—his skull essentially separated from his spine. His injuries were so serious that the coroner was called to the scene of the crash.

Six years later, a book was published that would become a sensation. The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven—with Kevin and Alex listed on the cover as co-authors—tells the saga of Alex’s improbable survival. But it wasn’t that medical miracle that launched the story to fame. In the book, Alex claimed he had spent time in heaven after the accident, and continued to be visited by angels and demons after he emerged from his coma two months later. He wrote that he traveled through a bright tunnel, and was greeted by five angels, and then met Jesus, who told him he would survive; later, he saw 150 “pure, white angels with fantastic wings.” Heaven has lakes and rivers and grass, the book says. God sits on a throne near a scroll that describes the End Times. The devil has three heads, with red eyes, moldy teeth, and hair made of fire.”

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