AJ today

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When first responders arrived, they figured that their job at the grisly scene was not to conduct a rescue, but rather to confirm AJ's death. To the rescuers' amazement, AJ was not dead.

At the hospital, AJ was placed in a drug-induced coma to give his body an opportunity to heal. He has since undergone 18 major surgeries in which doctors have taken bone from elsewhere in his body and, he says, "put my face back together."

AJ says he tried to kill himself that day because he was in so much emotional pain. "I didn't want to hurt anymore—I didn't want to deal with life," he says. "I really had a negative attitude at that point in time and it seemed like the only option."