OC People Tell Their Near-death Experiences


Interesting article…. I enjoyed it because I’ve read about so many people describing the same experience.

Stephen Damroth woke in his bed in Westminster to find his paranoid schizophrenic brother stabbing him in the chest.

But he says that wasn’t the worst of it.

At UCI Medical Center, he flat lined; his heart stopped. He felt himself standing before an intensely glowing, all-knowing, unconditionally loving light that filled him with a sense of awe.

"I was on the doorstep of eternity," he says. "I was right there. Home."

Then, he adds, "I got the boot."

This time, Steve woke on a hospital bed with a tube down his throat – and a feeling of rejection. Thirteen years later the 37-year-old drafter, who now lives in Rancho Santa Margarita, continues to grapple with the feelings that linger from his brief visit to the other side and his abrupt return trip.

But, these days, he doesn’t have to grapple alone.


It’s Saturday afternoon at the monthly meeting of the Orange County International Near-Death Experience Support Group.

The Unity Church of Tustin lets the group use one of their rooms, since a church member is the founder. Today, 13 people show up. They mill around, munching on corn chips and cheese and making small talk before settling into folding chairs to watch a DVD called "Home and Back."

One of the people in the video is a Fullerton man who is a regular at the support group, but doesn’t happen to be here today. Scott Hobbs, 46, of Fullerton says he was clinically dead three times during a marathon surgery in 2004 while doctors removed a tumor from his brain.

Although it seems a contradiction, survivors consider some near death experiences better than others. The mother of all near death experiences is what they call the Core Experience.

"They say that is what mine was," Scott told me later over the phone. "I was the universe and the universe was me."

Scott uses this analogy: "If you were a drop of water, in an eyedropper, and I dropped you into the Pacific Ocean, at that moment, you, little old you, would be the Pacific Ocean. There would be no separation."

His experience was so sweet, he says, he felt like a balloon expanding with joy and awe. "When I was clinically dead, I was more alive than I’ve ever been in my life."

Before he was sent packing, a voice told him two things, both times addressing him by his first name.

"Scott," the voice said first, "all things are as they should be."

It also said: "Scott, anything is possible."

When the video ended and the lights were turned back on, one man in the support group was so touched he was wiping tears.


I asked why they needed a support group if their NDEs were obviously behind them and left only good memories.

"It’s a sense of belonging, of fitting in," said Sue Ingram of Laguna Beach.

"Because we certainly don’t (fit in) in the mainstream."

Sue had a NDE when she was 22 and her tire blew out as she was driving through a tunnel in Pennsylvania. Frankly, she can’t wait to go back to "the other side."

After a short break, the group formed a circle with the folding chairs and took turns sharing their stories. Of the 13, five were women.

Joanna Carter-Gottenbos, who drove down from Lake Arrowhead, told how when she was 13 she drowned off the Santa Monica Pier. She saw her body floating in the water and then was sucked up into a warm, loving light.

"I was not only myself, I was every other person," Joanna said.

"Yes!" Sue said.

Joanna said a being asked her if she wanted to return to her body. "And I said, ‘Heck no, I’m not going back!’"

Others in the circle laughed and clapped.

But she was sent back. Family members later thought she was delusional. Her priest told her to shout "Satan be gone!"

Another man in the group said his parents sent him to a shrink after his childhood NDE. Others said they often get people trying to convince them that a chemical must have been released when they were dying to produce a hallucination.

I asked members of the group to raise their hands if, before having their NDEs, they probably wouldn’t have believed a story like theirs. Half put up their hands.

"I don’t just tell people randomly," said Lee Offenhauer, advertising art director with Coast Magazine. "I’m sure they think maybe it was just a bad cookie or something, which is understandable."

Lee told the group he had his experience when he was 23. It was 1974. He wasn’t actually near death, but had fallen into a sort of sleep state one afternoon. "I just left my body." (One of the misconceptions is that you can only have a near-death experience if you’re near death, I was told.)

Lee says he traveled down a tunnel toward a light that was a conscious being. "This was love. This was intelligence. I guess you could say it was vibrating with total love. Unconditional is such a puny word. Well, you guys know."

If he could give a title to the message of what was imparted to him by this being, it would be: "Trust yourself." At some point, though, he was sucked back to the sofa. Six hours had gone by. Lee says he spent the next two weeks of his life "in a state of total bliss."

"And that all sounds very weird, I’m sure," he says, laughing. "There is no question in your mind that what happened is absolutely real, and also totally understandable that nobody else will get it."


The founder of the local support group never had an NDE.

Angel Powers owns Angel’s Honey Farms in Anaheim. She does bee removals and sells honey at farmer’s markets. She also has a fascination with the phenomenon of near-death experience.

"For years and years I read about it," she says. On the Internet she noticed that there were support groups in San Diego, Los Angeles, but nothing in Orange County.

"I thought, for as many people who live here and have had a near-death experience, and they don’t have a support group? Well why not start one? It was like an obsession, it wouldn’t leave me alone. I just had to do it."

The group had its first meeting four years ago. Since then, 158 people have put their names on her sign-in sheet. Angel is happy that she has brought so many people together.

Although, she confides, "sometimes I feel left out."

WOW!!!  What are your thoughts?


My neighbor woke me up at 6:30 this morning ON A SUNDAY to tell me to put my flag up!  I asked him what holiday it was and he looks at me as if I’m crazy.  Well, standing there in my boxers with one eye open, I can’t blame him!  He says, “It’s Air Force Day!!”.  Sheesh!  So I stagger out with my 70lb ladder and put my flag up.  Now he’s happy.  As he walked away I asked him when Coast Guard Day was!  BTW, he was a Major in the Air Force.  I’m gonna have to put a flagpole in the front yard so I won’t have to lug that ladder back and forth.


Lots of sports on TV today (Joe??).  Three baseball games and NASCAR.  So I’ll be kicking back and thinking about when I have to take that flag down.

Have a Super Sunday!

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2 Responses to OC People Tell Their Near-death Experiences

  1. Joe says:

    I’m glad you didn’t have a near death experience on that ladder…seriously man, be careful. I just have one little two cents worth of my thoughts on life after death. I’m a firm believer in Jesus Christ as you may have guessed at this point. I know that without accepting that he is indeed the son of God and died and rose again that all who believe on him be saved your time for eternity will be a far more negative and frightening experience to say the least. Don’t shoot the messenger, this is my belief and I’m sticking to it LOL! I also believe there’s a devil and I think without belief in Jesus that’s who we end up spending eternity with. On the lighter side…no, I did not watch any sports…goodness sake Bob, you must know by now that you’re my favorite sports reporter…I think sometimes that without you I wouldn’t know the difference between a baseball and a basketball!

  2. Fizz says:

    Great article… very interesting. I’ve never had one but adm completely interested in that sort of thing. Poor papa… his eye’s glaze over and he almost starts to drool when I find a TV marathon of this stuff…

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