After brush with death, Utah State's Danny Berger ready to serve others

Published: Thursday, April 25 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

While life has started to feel normal again, Berger, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has sought to understand the spiritual lessons he gained from his near-death experience. While some insights are personal, he didn’t mind sharing others.

First, Berger said, everything happens for a purpose.

“If we are paying attention, if we are listening, we can figure out what those reasons are and learn from them,” Berger said. “It’s not like I was a bad kid or anything, but you can always make improvements. Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to have the restored gospel."

Second, life is fragile, so cherish your time with loved ones.

“Anything can happen at any time. That’s never been as real as it is now,” Berger said. “I can’t stress enough how important relationships are, especially with family.”

Since returning almost two years ago from his LDS mission to Detroit, Berger says he’s been consumed with his own life — and that needs to change.

“As a missionary you are not thinking about yourself. You are serving others. When you do that, you grow so much. This past year and a half I’ve felt kind of selfish,” said Berger, whose girlfriend, Kylee Coleman, just departed on a mission in Brazil. “This was a huge reminder to think less about myself and serve others in multiple ways. It’s something that’s stood out to me, kind of a wake-up call.”

A blessing

Amid the blur of events following his collapse, Berger was grateful for the many people who provided support or medical attention. He was especially grateful to receive a priesthood blessing from his LDS bishop, Steve Carroll, and second counselor, Larry Hepworth, before being flown to Murray.

“It worked out perfectly,” Berger said. “There were so many things like that that strengthened my faith.”

Bishop Carroll was also grateful to assist his ward member.

“I don’t remember much about the blessing … but it was a wonderful experience,” Carroll said. “It was a true blessing to be able to give him a blessing of health and comfort.”

Brian Berger

While Danny Berger was being flown to Murray, his bishop called Berger's father, Brian, who was traveling across the Nevada desert on his way to Provo for the USU-BYU game the following day. When informed of what had happened, Brian Berger asked a highway patrolman for an escort to Salt Lake. He was told to drive to Elko and fly to Salt Lake City. Berger opted to stay in his vehicle and was soon racing along at high speeds, consumed with worry about his son.

“Do you have children yourself? Then you can probably answer your own question then,” Brian said when asked about his reaction to the phone call. “It’s been very difficult, but I’m thankful it came out the way it did. It’s a tough phone call to get.”

He was later pulled over by another patrolman and not issued a ticket, but warned to slow down. Eventually he reached the hospital in Murray.

“The whole thing is still pretty traumatic to think about, what could have happened,” Brian said. “You don’t think about this happening to one of your children. It just shocked me.”

As father and son later discussed what unfolded on that unforgettable day, they have looked for a silver lining. At times they would like to decline the interview requests and put the experience behind them, but they also want to help save lives in the future.

“Philosophically, you’ve got to try to look at events and find something positive,” Brian said. “Our plan has been to try to raise awareness for the having AEDs available and the training to use them. … If he can just save one life, it would be worth all the interviews in the world. That’s how we’re looking at it.”

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