Young hero
by Nicole Bywater

photo of Carter family

Six-year-old[sic] Nathan Carter said the only thing he could think about as his family's car went off the road after his father went unconscious from a seizure was hitting a small telephone box in the wooded area.

"I thought about [a video game] James Bond's Everything or Nothing, where this guy hits something and then just starts shaking."

He said he knew he had to lean over from the passenger seat and steer the car, "Because I knew that we were going to head into a tree or a pond or something and then I thought that telephone thing was going to electrocute us."

The car had hopped a curb and was slowed down as it went through a row of woody bushes. Nathan leaned over from the passenger seat and steered the car to safety, coming to a stop when the car struck a tree.

Had the car turned off a little sooner, it would have gone into a housing development. A little later and it would have gone into a deep pond.

At the wheel was Mike Carter, 30, an Allen resident who works in Lewisville.

"This was my deepest fear, that I would have a seizure while driving, and especially with my family in the car," said Mike, his voice trailing off at the end.

Their daughter, 2-year-old Gracie Carter was asleep in her car seat in the back of the family's 1994 Nissan Maxima.

The near-tragedy began at about 3 p.m. Monday, as the family was on Central Expressway, headed back home from having lunch in downtown Dallas with mother/wife Maura Carter, 26.

Mike suffered severe head injuries in a car accident in 1996 and began having seizures five years later from the scar tissue in his brain, he said. He's been on various medications which helps control the problem, but doctors tell him it could take years to get just the right medication and dosage to completely eliminate the seizures.

"I just thank God there is a medicine out there for it," Mike said.

And, until now, the seizures had never occurred during the day.

While on the freeway in Plano, Mike said he got that feeling - similar to a panic attack -he gets before a seizure. Although he thought there was no chance he would have one, he turned off the freeway at Bethany Drive in Allen. He drove east on Bethany and turned left on Allen Heights, towards the family's home. Halfway down the four-lane street, it happened.

Nathan had never seen his father have a seizure, but Mike and Maura had told him just a few months ago what would happen if he did.

"I remember that she told me he would shake a lot and he would make funny noises," Nathan said.

After the car hit the tree and stopped, Nathan couldn't get to the cell phone in his dad's pocket, so he ran to the street and flagged down a passerby, who called 9-1-1.

"The fireman said I was super duper hero," Nathan said.

Maura said she will always remember the phone call that she got at work telling her what happened. Her mother, whom she works with at a legal firm in Dallas, drove her to Centennial Medical Center in Frisco, where Mike had gone in an ambulance. A friend who lives close by picked the two children up from the accident scene.

Maura said the situation "never seemed real."

"I didn't cry then and I haven't cried about it yet. I've just sat in a daze about it all."

She said she knew Mike was going to be fine because he's had the seizures before and been OK, but she was most upset that Nathan had to see his dad that way.

"That hurt me much more than the accident," Mike said. "They're going to have to grow up with this."

Mike said he woke up in the ambulance on the way to the Frisco hospital, but the rest of the day is a blur. He had two more seizures that night and was taken to Presbyterian Hospital of Allen for more tests, Maura said, but he's been fine since then.

Amazingly, the family car survived the accident with nothing but a few scratches from the bushes it went through[sic]

Mike, who works nights as a tattoo artist at Love-N-Hate Studio in Lewisville, is now worried about getting to work. He said he has to go six months without a seizure before he can drive again.

The family has lived in Allen for 18 months, but is considering moving so that Mike can be closer to his job. Maura alternates between working in Dallas and working from home, and home-schools Nathan.

Mike and Maura call Nathan their little hero, a title he's grown comfortable with.

"Aren't you happy you're going to be in the newspaper," Maura asked Nathan while they were talking about the incident.

"Yeah, I just hope I don't have to sign a lot of autographs," said Nathan, with a grin. "I'll sign some. I just don't want to have to sign a million."

Contact staff writer Nicole Bywater at 972-727-3352, ext. 103 or

©Star Community Newspapers 2005

Plano Top Stories
Nicole Bywater
Plano Star Courier: 14 February 2005

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last edited: 18 February 2005