Milledgeville Angler Survives Nearly Tragic Accident
Brad Stalnaker: “God was watching over me”
Brad Stalnaker’s left forefinger was nearly blown off when he reached to turn off his cell phone alarm on his motel nightstand. This photo was taken at an emergency clinic shortly after the accident.
Can you imagine waking up in a motel room and think your alarm is going off and when you reach to turn it off you instead fire a .40 caliber hollow point into your hand? That unforgettable wake-up call happened to Georgia Big Stick Brad Stalnaker. He was down in south Florida getting ready for a family fishing trip at Lake Okeechobee when the accident happened.
“We were just down there fun fishing. I was going to fish Monday and Tuesday and my Daddy and my son were coming down the following day,” said Brad. “Of course, all of that changed when I decided I wanted to wake up with a pistol in my hand.”
“I had my gun on the nightstand in my hotel. I had driven down that night and got in about 3 a.m,” he continued. “I was sound asleep about 4 or 4:30 when the phone alarm went off. You know how to reach your thumb over to turn off your alarm and that’s what I did–except in the morning haziness I had the Glock’s trigger in my finger instead of the phone.”
What happened next was unbelievable.
“I heard the gunshot and jumped up out of bed and my original thought was that I was getting robbed,” said Brad. “There was smoke in the room and a little light coming in the window and did not know I had shot myself. When I stood up I felt the pain in my hand and there was blood all over the floor.” Brad said the hollow point went through the forefinger on his left hand and blew the top of the bone off.
“It went through the wall and lodged in the door jam of the room next door,” Brad said. “Thank God no one else was hurt.”
But there was no panic in this Big Stick from Milledgeville. “I somehow got my clothes on and got my wallet and wrapped my hand in a towel and put the gun in my back pack and headed to the local hospital.”
Brad said he told the emergency room staff to start writing down some phone numbers as he wasn’t sure if he was going to pass out.
So instead of flipping mats on Tuesday he was transported by ambulance to a local trauma center, where they performed surgery on his left hand. Before they put him under, he told the surgeon “I’d better have five fingers on this hand when I wake up. Do not cut off my finger.” And the surgeon was able to save the finger. In fact, because Brad got immediate medical care was one of the reasons he was able to save his finger. He returned to Georgia the following day and had another surgery about a week later (the second photo shows the hand as it was in a Facebook post on Feb. 9th).
On the mend: Brad’s finger in early February after his second surgery. He says it’s still a little awkward flipping, but it hasn’t stopped him from catching big bags.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” said Brad. “I know how this could have turned out. God has his plan for me and I know it’s for a reason.”
Here’s the kicker. Within six days after his second surgery, Brad said he had to get back on the water. “I went out to Sinclair that following Saturday and my best five would probably have gone about 18 (pounds).” Brad said the injury created a little awkwardness but he is right-handed, so that helped. He said he had to hold the rod up under his left arm, but he still hoisted in several four pounders and lost one that might have gone over six. “I think it actually might end up helping me a little because I fished slower, and when you’re flipping, that’s usually a good thing.”
The good-natured Stalnaker said he hoped others would learn from his accident–and he is thankful to God that it was not worse than it was.Speaking of six pounders, Brad had taken big fish honors in a C&R Tournament on Jackson two months ago with a bass that went about 6-10.
(Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to catch the GeorgiaBigSticks.com interview with Brad on our next blog post).
Brad during happier times. He had big fish (6-10) at the C&R December Tournament on Lake Jackson. This was about six weeks before his accident down in south Florida.