JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local tragedy has elicited an outpouring of sympathy for a local pastor and his son, Ben.
Dr. Steve Bowersox is the worship pastor at First Baptist in Jacksonville and a pilot. Ben was in a horrible accident at an airplane hangar at Craig Airfield.
Several of Ben's fingers were totally cut off when he grabbed a cable on a motorized hangar door Tuesday.
Bowersox said part of the mechanics for the door pulled his son's arm around like a rubber band.
"That axle grabbed his hand and wrapped it up 360 to his shoulder," he said. "It was a blessing I could stop the machine because it would not have stopped ... it would have torn his arm off."
Bowersox said he's grateful he was able to stop the machine or he thinks he son would have died.
Bowersox picked up the severed fingers and Ben was rushed to Duke Medical Center in North Carolina, where the closest experts were.
"By the grace of God, a life flight crew in Gainesville had just landed. They had just walked in. They were five minutes from leaving," Bowersox said.
Ben was in surgery for 15 hours, doctors working hard to reattach his fingers.
Doctors say the window of time to get a patient into surgery to re-attach fingers is only six hours. Ben made it into the operating room just at six hours.
A hyperbaric chamber helped to oxygenate the tissue to keep Ben's fingers alive.
Bowersox said Ben's twin sister was right there when the accident happened and she saw the bleeding and trauma. The twins' mom, Bowersox's wife, died of cancer two years ago.
Church members and staff at First Baptist are closely following Ben's recovery, and some have "Pray for Ben" written on their hands.
"It just reminds them throughout the day not to just pray for Ben once in the morning or once at night but throughout the day to pray for Ben and for Steve," said church member Bill Cater.
Thursday night, the church posted on its Facebook page, "Ben has 'come up' from his two-hour Scuba Dive in the hyperbaric chamber where they are trying to boost his oxygen level and save tissue. He will need two to three more tomorrow and a total of seven or eight. Please continue to pray for Ben."