Patrick McNutt is a well-known resident of Eaton Rapids. He’s always busy, is very social, and zips around town in his bright yellow power wheelchair. He grew up in Jackson and graduated from Jackson Northwest High School. He worked at his grandparent’s elevator in Onondaga as a child, was a swim coach at Spring Arbor College, and did construction work and drove semi-truck with his brother. One of his favorite jobs was for an industrial x-ray company, which allowed him to travel around the country; he visited 26 of the 50 states in one year.
Things changed in 2001 when he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Things worsened considerably when he had a car accident in 2004. After a wild night of drinking, he crashed his car into a tree, which caused him to be an incomplete paraplegic for the rest of his life. Incomplete paraplegia means that the spinal cord is not completely severed and some neural circuits between the brain and body still exist.
At the time he used alcohol and any other drug under the sun, McNutt admits, other than ones requiring a needle or meth. He was cross addicted to both alcohol and drugs, he explained.
McNutt was life-flighted to Sparrow Hospital after the crash, and a doctor was flown in from Grand Rapids to help him due to the severity of his injuries. McNutt suffered a broken jaw, many broken ribs, a broken pelvis and left femur, feet injuries, a dissected aorta, and an infarction between his T-9 and T-10 vertebrae, which caused his paralysis. He suffered from memory loss for three months.
He spent much time in rehabs, in-patient, and out-patient.
Eventually, he felt ready to live on his own, and after looking at neighboring communities, he decided to move to Eaton Rapids. He had partied here in the past and knew a lot of people from here, he explained, he liked that it was a close-knit and quiet community. He enjoys history, and really enjoyed “talking to the old-timers” that he met in Eaton Rapids and learning about what it was like in the past.
McNutt got involved with Eaton Rapids sports about seven years ago. “I never paid for a ticket to any Eaton Rapids sporting event,” he said, due to the generosity of others. When at the events, he noticed that it was always the same three women working the concession stand. He offered to help, and they took him up on it. He is still an Eaton Rapids Athletic Booster and has worked the concession stand at events for seven years.
“I want to give back to the community, so I volunteer,” McNutt said. “I sometimes feel guilty getting free money from the government and I want to show support to the town.” McNutt is active on both the Quality of Life Board and the Parks and Recreation Board for the City of Eaton Rapids.
“I want the parks in Eaton Rapids to be more accessible for both those with disabilities and the walking people, and to make them nicer in general,” McNutt said.
McNutt has a special connection with his church, the Eaton Rapids Assembly of God. “I don’t know where I’d be to this day if not for the people at my church,” he said. “I have too much love for my church family, I will never give up. Too many people love me.”
McNutt feels he was given a second chance by God. He remembers being dead, he said, and that God pointed at him and said, “I am not ready for you yet, son.”
“Life is too precious to give up,” Mcnutt said. “If you give up, you’re not getting the help you need.”
McNutt said he will be celebrating 17 years of being clean in August.