Nobody expects to get a huge curveball in life, and Eduardo Garcia was definitely not ready for one when he went out bow-hunting for elk back in 2011.
Garcia, a classically-trained chef, had just returned home to Bozeman, Mont. after more than a decade traveling the world as a chef on private yachts, and had just started up Montana Mex, a family-run Mexican food company, when the fateful day came.
“No one plans for that day. It was a crazy time with the company and I was out hunting and came across a bear carcass … when you are outdoors a lot you see this,” the 32-year-old told Fox News Latino. “I pulled my knife – I always carry a knife with me – and stabbed it.”
He did not realize that under the carcass was a live power line that carried 2,400 bolts of electricity.
“What I can remember was my heart was beating and my eyes were open,” Garcia said. “I told myself get on your knees.”
“If you listen to yourself, your mind and body are super smart. My body was saying to get on my knees,” he continued. And he did, drawing a complete blank after that.“The next thing I remember I was walking about a mile away – on an old logging road – and my intuition, instinct to survive said to get help.”
Garcia suffered nine exit wounds, spent 48 days in intensive care, had 21 surgeries, and lost four ribs, major muscle groups in his torso and 10 inches of his left arm.
All this, though, did not stop him from getting back to his passion. He took the new challenge and ran with it, straight back into the kitchen.
“I still think like a chef,” Garcia said.
Five days after getting out of the hospital, with the help of a prosthetic hook, he cooked a meal for a group of friends.
“It took long, but I was doing it,” he said. “It’s doable, and I thought I'd get faster, better.”
“I still don’t feel like I am back to how I was as a chef, I don’t think I will return to the same speed, (but) I am better than the day before,” he continued.
Now, two years later, he is living proof that giving 100 percent can get anyone anywhere.
Garcia is cooking, back out hunting and living life to the fullest, with just a minor change – a change he said has been very humbling.
He went on to talk about a catering event he took on a while back, where he was so busy that he even forgot he had a prosthetic arm until he had to carry a 70 lb cooler.
“My prosthetic broke – I had to stop to fix it,” he said. “It was the first time I thought that I had a prosthetic on my arm … It was a phenomenal moment.”
During that same event, he remembers going to Costco and was trying to carry a box of about 100 limes and his prosthetic could not hold on.
“I didn’t feel the box and the claw losing its grip,” Garcia said. “And there were 100 limes, going all over the floor. I had to laugh. It was humbling. I just had to overcome it.”
Recently Garcia received a bionic hand that will help push the limits of what he can now do.
The new prosthetic, fitted by Portland firm Advanced Arm Dynamics and designed by U.K. tech firm Touch Bionics, is a motorized, wireless hand that can grip in 25 different ways and is controlled by muscles in Garcia’s forearm. Garcia describes it as a “Darth Vader hand.”
“I feel like a superhero with it… it's badass,” he said, adding though that in the kitchen it’s not the most practical, mostly because it’s not water or heatproof.
Garcia, now being called the "Bionic Chef," is also working on a new cooking TV show called “Active Ingredient,” something he started working on before the accident.
In the show, which is being offered to different networks, Garcia is taking his experiences as a chef travelling the world, his culinary training and his love for the outdoors to promote a healthy, active with a can-do attitude toward food and life.
“I did this everywhere I went,” Garcia said. “Just go for it. People hold back on great ideas because of the unknown and I believe momentum builds momentum.”
It’s been an inspirational couple of years for Garcia, who said the takeaway is that everyone needs to be their own leader and that believing in yourself and giving 110 percent will get you places.
“Just give it all you’ve got… and have fun doing it,” he said. “Approach every day with a smile.”
Follow Lucia I. Suarez on Twitter @luciasuarezsang