Updates on Recovery

Last Saturday Brent and Kylie Johnsen were involved in a serious car accident. They were accompanied by friends, Dave and Becky Magill and their 18 month old son Joshi, and Dr. Blaine Charette a professor at Northwest University in Kirkland WA. Brent suffered a fractures in his sinus area, basal skull area and was placed in ICU for severe brain trauma. David suffered a broken sternum but has been treated and released from the hospital. Kylie, Dr. Charette, Rebecca and Josh are doing well and are recovery.


Would you take a moment and pray with us for all that were involved. Pray for peace, healing, understanding and thankfulness that everyone is alive and recovering.


This page is to help keep everyone up-to-date on news and how to help.

January 10th 6:15PM


Yeah, you read it right.  Typing these words are the slightly scarred hands of the guy whose picture is at the top of this page.  That’s what I get for holding on the steering wheel at ten and two, I suppose…

My goal in this post is to update you on everything we know so far about recovery, because you deserve it!  Kylie and I have felt so incredibly blessed, loved, and cared for by all of you over the past four weeks that “THANK YOU” – even in all caps – seems trite and underwhelming.  Seemingly every night around 5:00 PM a knock comes at our door revealing a crock pot of homemade soup/stew or ready to bake lasagna.  I’ve never eaten so well, except (of course) when my wife cooks – chances are she’ll read this so I need to cover my bases.  We’ve received countless cards, hundreds of text messages, and even poster boards with our names on them – all of them filled with kind thoughts and well wishes.  I would never recommend getting in a car accident, but I will say I’ve never felt more loved and appreciated…so there’s that.


Great question.  I wish I had a better answer for you.  We drove to Walla Walla to take some friends who were visiting from out of town to our favorite little eatery – the Olive (try it and thank us later).  On our way home, it was late afternoon just as the sun was setting on the horizon making it difficult to see.  I didn’t have sunglasses with me because…well…December.  I made a small off-hand comment about it to my passenger who was taking a brief snooze.  Kylie was in the way back along with two of our other friends and their 18 month old son.  I remember seeing someone driving towards me, coming from the opposite direction, who flashed me with their lights – which is code to me for “Watch out, cop ahead!”.  So I slowed my cruise control down to 50.  And that’s the last thing I remember before waking up to the taste of windshield and airbag.  Apparently, from what we gather from the police report, we came around a slight curve and slammed into the back end of a semi who had stopped because of another wreck ahead.  I never saw it.  Never saw anything.  Just brightness from the sun.  Maybe I daydream drifted, maybe a small fog set it.  I’m not sure I’ll ever know how or why it happened, but I remember waking up and letting Kylie know I was alive and able to move everything.  In that moment, I thought not only had I survived – somehow I would walk away from this without any issues.  My passenger, Blaine, also voiced that he, too, was alive and well.  Within seconds I heard a voice of someone I didn’t recognize, a good samaritan who had seen the accident and was there to help. 

Him: “What’s your name?”

Me: “Brent”

Him: “Brent what?”

Me: “Brent Johnsen”

Him: “Brent Johnsen?!  It’s Bobby Dietrich.”

I’ve known Bobby since high school.  One of my friends dated his sister for a while.  We went to the same college (Northwest).  A few months prior to the accident, he and his wife moved back to the Tri-Cities and had attended EastLake a handful of times. 

Me: “How’s it going, Bobby?  How’s the family?”  Just kidding.

Me: “Bobby, I need you to remove my headrest for me.”

My head was trapped between the windshield/visor and my headrest and it was pretty painful.  He took the headrest out and held my head in place for what seemed like the length of a college football game.  When the authorities arrived they removed my driver’s side door, only to find my left leg slightly trapped.  Using the jaws of life they pulled our car out from the underside of the semi, freeing my leg and, ultimately, freeing me from the vehicle itself.  And that’s where it ends for me.  I don’t recall the rest.  The next thing I knew I was waking up at Kadlec hospital in Richland and it was three or four days later.  Some pretty crazy stuff happened during that time, but it’s not really my story to tell.  For that you’ll have to read the upcoming post from my wife’s blog (when she’s not too busy taking care of me and has the time to write it all out):  littlebluechairblog.wordpress.com.

I don’t remember my time spent in the ICU, but I remember waking up to snow and my sister picking small shards of windshield glass out of my hair.  They asked me questions to gauge my awareness levels: “Who’s the President?”  Me: “Obama…but only for a little while longer.”  Kylie knew…I was back.  I told Kylie the other day coming home from some x-rays, that I don’t think I’ll ever be aware of how tenuous the circumstances surrounding my accident really were.  Sure I was in some pain at the hospital and breathing was difficult (even after I went home), but I never felt as though my life was in danger.  Ignorance is bliss, right?

After two days of hospital food and getting pricked with needles throughout the night, my number one concern for my nurse was: “What’s it going to take to get home?”  I needed a game plan.  Give me some goals.  White board it out for me.  So they did. 

01.  Get off of Oxytocin.  Easy – stuff was giving me crazy dreams anyways.  I’m out. 

02.  Get your breathing up to a certain level.  On it.  Breathing is important.

03.  Walk around the hospital floor three times daily.  I did it four or five times in case there was a shift change and they didn’t catch me in the act.  I wanted full credit.

I slept a bunch.  I watched TV a lot, but only using one eye at a time because I had/have some double vision issues.  I did my best to keep Kylie busy at all hours of the night.  Let’s sleep on my right side.  Now, on my left.  Five minutes later…my right.

Speaking of which, she never left my side the entire time.  You can’t have Kylie, but I HIGHLY recommend finding your own Kylie in case you’re ever stuck in a hospital or stuck at home in long-term recovery.  She’s been my rock this entire time, and there’s no way I’d be anywhere close to where I’m at without her.  But, let’s be honest…that’s true about every arena of my life.  Love you, babe (if you’re bored and reading this even though none of this is news to you). 

Eventually, I made it home: December 17th. 

Here’s the breakdown of everything wrong with me (that I know of):

Fractured my C7 neck vertebrae – that’s the biggie. 

Left leg swelling and tightness, for a few weeks unable to really walk on beyond couch to car. 

Double vision.

Unknown pain in left hand.  Possibly a small break.

Numbness and tingling in right index finger.

Pain in right shoulder (likely whiplash).

And, don’t forget, the embarrassment of having driven into the back of a non-moving semi truck.

Also, I’m still too competitive when it comes to playing home board games with family.

This list could go on forever, so I’d better move on. 

Appointments are on the schedule every couple of weeks to see my primary physician – Aaron over at Total Care (mini-commercial in case they offer a referral discount…doubtful, but what the heck).  I also just had an appointment with my Kadlec neurologist this morning.  They said everything seems to be progressing at the pace they expected and that I need to wear the Miami J (the fancy name for my neck brace) for at least another month – which I’m SUPER pumped about.  Leg currently feels 100% better, breathing feels perfect, double vision only on the left side now – which means I can read and watch TV with both eyes open (#win).  Hand and whiplash are both still…meh, but hard to complain. 

The Leadership Team at EastLake put me on a mandatory health sabbatical under further notice from my doctor, much to Kylie’s satisfaction.  Most of my time is spent at home, reading, watching last season of Deadliest Catch, cheering on my Zags, playing with the kids, sleeping in my new Costco lazy boy chair (worth every penny), and updating friends and family on life.  Our new hire, Margot, has taken over the teaching/speaking role at the church in the interim and we got to hear her live this past Sunday as she knocked it out of the park.  I’m not sure when I’ll be back in the saddle yet.  Trying not to rush it, even though I literally had to be board vetoed to not try and speak on Christmas Eve.  I would have fought harder, but I couldn’t breath and there seemed to be twice as many of them as I remember.

There are intentionally no pictures of the wreck posted on this page primarily because I haven’t been able to pull myself to look at them yet.  I’m sure I’ll get there someday.  It’s enough for me to know that I’m a walking miracle.  I probably shouldn’t still be alive or coherent enough to write something like this.  The ICU staff were preparing Kylie for the possibility that if/when I came around I might not actually be “me”, you know?  Who knows if I still am?  In my first message back I might throw in some really bad jokes at the beginning just to throw people off. 

So, that’s where we’re at.  This is my attempt to not have to tell it individually over and over again, though I will.  Because I’m blessed.  With your friendship – for caring enough to read something this long, if you’re still here, with my family, with competent medical staff, with a church leadership team that cares, with kids who wrap up random things around the house and give them to me because “I’m sick and hope to get better”, with a wife who has sacrificed more than I’ll ever understand – glad we’re not keeping score, babe, because I’d be in a serious hole, and finally with a God who cared enough to not let my story end in that way.  May I live with a proper understanding of borrowed time and may I write a story worth telling about a God who loves…

This will be the final update posted on this page.  Thanks for stopping by over the past few weeks.  For updates from here, you’ll see us around Costco, at EastLake, at the Coldplay concert in September, and on my dad’s boat this summer.  Ask us about it then. 

Grace + Peace.


December 15th 5:40PM

Brent is still making progress as he was moved out of ICU late last night. He’s now trying to work his way towards breathing without the help of added oxygen and keeping his body temperature under control, but it may take some time. The family is asking for prayers for Brent to regain a healthy appetite.

Even though Brent would love to catch up with all his friends, the family is asking to please give him time to heal. The little things are major chores on his body.

“We are absolutely loving our time here with the Bradys! We wanted to say thank you to all the meals the people of EastLake have provided for us as well as your generous donations. ‘God bless the Land of the Free’ “- Dave Magill

Dr Charette is also making great progress back in the Seattle area. We are thankful for the time he was here and wish him the best.

December 13th 4:05PM

Brent had another good night last night. The doctors are seeing progress with the blood on his brain improving and his fractures will likely heal without surgery. Brent will be working with a physical therapist today to try standing.

Dave, Becky and Joshi are doing well and love staying with the Bradys. Both families have gotten close and are super thankful for all the support.

Thank you all for your continued prayers.

December 13th 3:00PM

If you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to help out, here’s your chance. Would you like to make a healthy kid friendly meal for 5 kids and 2 adults? You can sign up here.


Sign up to volunteer to deliver food to 5 kids and 2 adults.

December 12th 8:45

We are happy to announce that Brent is awake. He has been able to speak with Kylie the kids and his family. He is sore, in pain and tired. Doctors have said he is doing wonderfully well (as we all know Brent does everything well). We know he still has a long road ahead of him. Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

December 11th 6:10PM

Many have asked if they can do something. Do you like to cook? The Magill family will be here for at least another 10 days. While they are displaced from home will you help make them feel loved and welcome. You can sign up to bring them delicious dinner at this Meal Train.


December 11th 6:00PM

We wanted to give an update. Brent is still in the ICU, scans look good, doctors are positive and they hope to remove his breathing tube tomorrow. Please keep praying. Everyone else is out of the hospital. Dave’s has a broken sternum and everyone involved is still very sore. Please keep praying!

December 10th 9:20PM

6 years ago, one amazing couple led the way in creating an amazing community for people who don’t typically like church. We’re all so grateful to have Brent and Kylie in our lives. In the midst of this tough time for them, we want to show them how grateful we all are for them and how much we love them. Can you help us?

1. Make a video or write a post tagging Brent Johnsen, Kylie Johnsen, and EastLake Tri-Cities on our Facebook. Start it with “I’m grateful for Brent and Kylie because…”

2. Tomorrow in both services, we’re going to record a short video of ALL of us telling them how much we love them. Join us at EastLake tomorrow at 9:30 or 11:00 and let’s help them feel our love!

Whether you’re EastLake member, an attendee, a one-time visitor, or you’ve visited the Uptown Theatre and felt the impact of EastLake sharing this resource with our community, we’d love you to lend your voice letting them know how grateful we are for them and their lives.

December 10th 6:35PM

Brent, Kylie and some friends were in an accident this evening. They were driving between Walla Walla and Pasco and collided with a semi. The next 24hours are critical as Brent has been moved to the ICU. He has some bleeding on the brain, a neck fracture (thankfully didn’t affect his spinal cord) and he is in a medically induced coma (he didn’t lose consciousness – they did it to lessen concussion symptoms). Everyone else has been released from the hospital and are doing okay. Please pray for him, their family and everyone involved. We will have another update tomorrow at church – 9.30 & 11am.

December 10th 4:37PM

Brent & Kylie are OK. But unfortunately they were in a car accident. Brent does not have life threatening injuries but he is being sent to Kadlec. Thank you for your continued prayers and we’ll update you when we have further news.


Donate directly to the families that were affected by the accident