PROVIDENCE, Cache County — On Chris Checketts' birthday, he was the one giving gifts.
The Cache County man was injured in an accident April 4 while snowmobiling with his son near Cornish Ridge in the Tony Grove Lake area. He died a few days later when taken off life support surrounded by family members in a hospital on Saturday, his 56th birthday.
"Chris' sister was in the room, and we mentioned that we were donating his kidneys. And she immediately just burst into tears because her next door neighbor has been waiting for a kidney," said Checketts' wife, Sandra Checketts.
"They ended up matching," his daughter Brittany Huish said.
Rather than a sacrifice, the Checketts family believes it was a "gift."
"This definitely isn't the birthday present I would have wanted to give my husband, but it's the birthday present that he is enjoying, and did enjoy," Sandra Checketts said. "And I want whoever is out there that gets to be a part of our life, to know that it was a birthday gift from Chris."
Two people were saved by his kidneys.
In the following months, the family will be able to learn who else benefited from Chris Checketts' organ donations.
His family described him as as a man who loved the outdoors and was "the life of the party." He also had a strong love for Jesus Christ, whose birthday the family believes he shared. His death at that time was part of a larger plan, they said.
"(He) and my son Jake were enjoying some amazingly beautiful country, which we absolutely love. That's my favorite area, and circumstances made it that he did pass through the veil (of death). And I don't understand everything, but I do understand that if it wouldn't have been that day, it would have been another day," Sandra Checketts said.
And they feel that he is still watching over them in the nature that he loved.Comment on this story
"As much as it sounds like the right thing to say that he's gone, I can't. He's not gone. He's everywhere. He's in the mountains that we see. He's in the beautiful stars at night," Huish said.
The family says they look forward to a time when they will be reunited with him.
"It feels like it's going to be so long, but it won't. This earthly experience is a magical thing, but it's just such a small thing in comparison to everything else that we get to experience," said Kylie Bischoff, another one of Checketts' daughters.
His funeral was held Wednesday in Millville, Cache County.
Contributing: Ashley Imlay