One year ago on August 5, Fr. Radu and Dr. Orlando Santandreu, chief of Obstetrics/Gynecology, were on jet skis when a four-foot wave caused Fr. Radu to suffer a near fatal crash.
Fr. Radu shattered his face and neck in the crash. Dr. Santandreu was 100 feet behind the chaplain when he saw him fall.
“The water was very choppy and I think that he slipped forward, and as he was coming down the jet ski was coming up and then they crashed,” said Dr. Santandreu.
“It looked like he was just jumping off and going for a swim,” he said. “I drove up to him and he was face down. I turned him over and he was bleeding.”
After getting Fr. Radu to shore, Dr. Santandreu attempted to resuscitate him with backward chest compressions. He worked on him for 20 minutes and was beginning to lose hope when a tugboat appeared and transported the pair to the hospital.
“I was literally looking for some sign, and that’s when I saw the tugboat,” said Dr. Santandreu.
Fr. Radu was intubated on a bed where he would lay unconscious for three weeks, fighting for his life. He endured three strokes.But six months later, the chaplain returned to work without any memory of the accident .
Fr. Radu credits his recovery to the power of prayer. During the time when he was unconscious, hospital staff from multiple religions came together and prayed for his recovery.
“Because of everybody’s prayers and support, I am the way I am today,” said Fr. Radu. “I consider LIJ Forest Hills my extended family, you guys were there for me.”
Fr. Radu and Dr. Santandeu had only been jet skiing together once before.
“I thought he needed more of a break than me because it was the middle of COVID, he was working a lot of hours, and he liked it and I knew that was an escape for him,” said Dr. Santandreu.