301 W. Franklin Street
Taylorville, IL 62568
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FROM THE SHERIFF’S DESK VOL 2, No 3
By Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp
Today I want to tell you about a remarkable man and an incredible life. His name is David Parnell. He is now an internationally known speaker, living in Tennessee with his wife and family.
He was born on December 25, 1966. His father, an abusive man who regularly beat his wife, was a whisky alcoholic, who smoked marijuana regularly.
The father introduced the young David to marijuana when he was 13. By the time he graduated from high school, David had become addicted to marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol.
He had been an outstanding basketball player, but drugs forced him to pass up any chances for college scholarships.
Straight out of high school, he married his high-school sweetheart. She was not a drug user, but David’s habits soon led to their splitting up. He went to Texas after the divorce and moved in with his father, who was at that time living in a “crank house” which was a term for methamphetamine.
David used meth for the first time at age 21. His heavy usage and resulting dependence led him to want to quit meth, so he moved to Tennessee, where the drug was not available. But in a short while, he had turned back to the other drugs and alcohol. Soon after, he ended up in prison for trying to sell a large shipment of marijuana.
After his prison time, he remarried. His wife Amy tried to get him to stop, but there was no way that was going to happen. She turned to drugs herself, driven by the pressures of David’s activities. The result was to make the daily lives of their children an on-going disaster.
And then something happened. David, nearly crushed by his drug habit, decided to end it all. On February 21, 2003, at the age of 36, he attempted suicide. He took the assault rifle he kept loaded beside the bed, put it in his mouth, and pulled the trigger.
The bullet tore through the front of his face, exiting between his eyes. His face had literally been cut in two. Almost all of the bones were broken. He lost most of his teeth. His lips and nose were almost totally destroyed.
He fell to the floor, and his face was severely damaged, but he still was able to tell Amy and his mother how sorry he was.
He was in hospitals with his injuries for a month. Over the following years he underwent 31 surgeries, some of which took as long as 13 hours.
Physically, his face, after all the surgery, still bore the disfigurations from the rifle bullet, but the doctors had managed to return some parts of him almost to a normal appearance.
At one point in the hospital he desperately asked God to forgive him for what he had done and the pain he had inflicted on others. He experienced a life-changing moment. He knew that he had been forgiven.
And an amazing transformation had indeed taken place. He had acquired a goal. He wanted to tell people the truth about drugs and the terrible price addicts pay for their addictions. He wanted to help drug-endangered children gain freedom from the dangers they constantly faced.
When he got home and worked on his recuperation, he and Amy started to create a plan to make it possible to tell his story to everyone they could reach.
His first real session came when he spoke at a public school, relating to the students the details of his life and the terrible price he had paid to overcome them.
David’s efforts to bring the absolute need for youngsters and adults to totally reject the drugs that had ruined his life connected powerfully with his audiences. Soon he was speaking to more school groups as well as conferences, advisory groups, and task forces about methamphetamine and the horrors that addiction to it produces.
The range of his presentations grew rapidly. Soon they were speaking all around the country. He had a powerful ability to reach drug-endangered children. After his presentations, many officials and observers began to report that on the days following his appearance, some youngsters in the school that had heard his presentation were coming forth to report drug activity in their families or among their friends.
In 2010, he worked with a successful writer, Amy Hammond Hagberg, to get the painful details of his story into a book. David’s book is entitled, “Facing the Dragon, How a Desperate Act Pulled One Addict Out of Methamphetamine Hell.”
Amy Hagberg wrote a special note in the book. She explained that as David had discussed his life’s events with her, there were no subjects that were off limits. The book is “deliberately disturbing because it is meant to serve as a warning and a reminder that seemingly innocuous choices can create devastation and deadly consequences.”
The book has done an outstanding job of reaching people on the threats of meth. His personal presentations along with the book have now combined to bring to a large number the much-needed story of his suffering and the hope that they can, as he did, overcome such problems.
We are currently seeking to arrange a presentation in our area for David Parnell to bring these results to us.
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