View Full Version : "Sh!t Happens"

03-05-2008, 02:01 PM

Plucky heist survivor says he was lucky

Jim Clark thought the car trunk he was crammed into might become his coffin.

Someone had just thrown an arm around the neck of the rail-thin 65-year-old — who his wife says weighs 150 pounds "on a good day."
Another man then pummeled him repeatedly in the face, knocking out his dentures and swelling his face to a pulp.

The robbers then wrapped a wire around his neck, dragged him 20 yards by his feet and stuffed him into the trunk of a Cadillac inside his Benson business.
For 20 minutes, Clark tried to find a way out of the trunk in the stifling heat of a July day.

He then passed out, and police found him, barely breathing, six hours later.
Eight months (including 18 induced-coma days), two heart attacks and $800,000 in Medicare bills later, Clark hobbled with a walker up to the stand Tuesday and testified in the trial of Omahan James Branch.
The attack — the second time he has been the victim of a high-profile robbery — hasn't dulled his sense of humor, his desire to work or his outlook on life.

"I'm really lucky," Clark said, before he rattled off the four surgeries he still needs. "There are so many people that have it so much worse than me."
He smiled at his wife of 37 years, Carmen Clark, and at family friend Barbara Schultz. "Right, girls?"

But what about the fact that he's been robbed twice — including seven years earlier, when Arthur Lee Gales bound him and robbed him a few weeks before a murder spree that landed Gales on death row?

"Shit happens," he shrugged.

Both in court and out, Clark spoke matter-of-factly about last year's crime and its impact. Shortly before noon July 16, he was walking through the business where he stores and sells used cars, many of them older luxury cars.
One man jumped him from behind. While that man held an arm to his throat, another man pounded his face. The two then dragged him to the trunk.
Clark said he couldn't identify either man. Branch, 22, denies involvement and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault, robbery and false imprisonment. Prosecutors say his accomplice, Paul Miller, will testify against him in this week's trial.

About 4 p.m., a Visa credit card representative called Carmen Clark, reporting suspicious activity on Jim's card. Prosecutors say the robbers were at a gas station, using the credit cards to fill up people's tanks in exchange for cash.
Carmen tried to call her husband over the next hour. When she couldn't get a hold of him, she called and asked Schultz, who lives nearby, to check on him.

About 5 p.m., Schultz searched the business, calling out Clark's name. She spotted his bloodstained dentures on the floor near the Cadillac and dialed 911.
Police arrived and had firefighters force open the trunk. They told Carmen the news: Jim was unconscious, but breathing.
For the next week, Carmen Clark said, doctors weren't sure her husband would survive. Doctors determined that he had a heart attack in the trunk — and another one at the hospital. They put him in a coma to ease the stress.

He remained in that coma for 18 days — and Carmen remained by his bedside, clinging to regular updates from doctors.
Slowly, they brought him out of the coma. He couldn't sit up on his own, but he became alert.

Clark cracked that he didn't think he had brain damage until the nurses started filing in, telling him how good he looked.
Days later, those same nurses lined a Creighton University Medical Center hallway and clapped as Clark was wheeled out of intensive care.
When a friend said she at first hadn't considered that he might have been kidnapped, Clark quipped, "Yeah, who would want to keep me around all the time?"

Over the next several weeks, the Clarks received hundreds of cards from people who know Jim, people who know that he would "give anyone anything if they just asked," Carmen said.
Tuesday, prosecutor Jim Masteller asked Clark to identify everything the robbers took. When Masteller produced a phone clip, Clark's eyes got bright.

"I've been looking for that," he said, drawing laughs from jurors.
Since the attack, he's been looking for a way back to what his wife calls his first love — finding and selling unique cars.
Right now, he can work only a few hours a day. Doctors say he needs a pacemaker. He needs a saliva gland removed to avoid the sting he feels when he eats — a product of the punches to his jaw.

And he needs two surgeries on his back before he can try to walk on his own.
"It's going to be a long pull, but I'll survive," Clark said. "Think about it — I could have been dead both times.

"I'm just . . . I'm so lucky."

What a tough old bird!

03-05-2008, 02:11 PM
Sign him Carl.

03-05-2008, 02:12 PM
Sign him Carl.


03-05-2008, 02:24 PM
wow, to the story and poster Sea of Red - nice thread closer.....