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GAF’s Jesse Hutch Recounts Drowning Experience: ‘If You’re Still Breathing,’ You Can Choose God

Photo by Chris Schmitt for Movieguide®

GAF’s Jesse Hutch Recounts Drowning Experience: ‘If You’re Still Breathing,’ You Can Choose God

By Movieguide® Contributor

Jess Hutch recently went on the “Jesus Calling” podcast to recount how his near-death experience showed him that the living have one option: the choice to choose Christ.

“What this experience taught me was you still have an option,” Hutch said about his drowning incident. “If you’re still breathing, if you’re still above ground, you have an option, and that option is to completely give it all over to God, because that honestly is the most peaceful place you can be.”

“I’m a father for almost 13 years. And I’ve also been an actor for 24 years,” Hutch introduced himself on the “Jesus Calling” podcast. “I’ve been doing stunts that entire time and starting to move into directing and producing a lot more. And of course, all of this is wrapped into faith because that is my base.”

In high school and university years, Hutch got interested in extreme sports. Before he became an actor, he was a professional white-water raft guide. At 21, he had an experience that would change his life forever.

“We got all the guests on, having a great time. They’re paddling hard. They’re giving it all they got,” he explained about the event.

“And then we drop into this rapid. And boom, we hit that first wave and we almost crashed over. But everybody’s having such a good time they all throw their arms in the air and they’re like, ‘Yeah!’”

The raft slowed and went backward. They started to surf.

“And two of the guys in the front, they fall out. One guy flies past me. He hits the water,” Hutch said.

“He’ll be fine. We’ll pick him up at the bottom. The other guy, he manages to grab part of my life jacket,” Hutch recounted.

As the man grabbed Hutch, Hutch put his foot under a safety strap in the raft.

“I kept my foot under it because I was like, ‘All right, we’ll just see if I can shake him off and then we’ll pick him up at the bottom,’ because there’s two currents, there’s the surface current, and then there’s another one the veterans called the ‘green room,’ because if you ever end up down there, let’s say twelve plus feet below the top current, then everything kind of looks green just because of the way the sunlight reflects and kind of moves down there,” he said. “And eventually I’m like, I can’t shake this dude off. I’m just going to have to bail and swim it out.”

“So finally, that’s what I do. I take my foot out, boom, I hit the water, I’m upside down, left, right and all the directions. And all of a sudden my ears just kind of pop and I’m like, Whoa, that hurt. That was new. I must have gone down further than I anticipated.”

When Hutch opened his eyes, he found himself in “the green room.”

“Okay, I’ve heard of this place. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Just remember your training, right?” Hutch said.

“I sort of attempt to swim again and the current’s just…it’s too strong, it’s moving me along. So I know at this point I need to just ride it out because you can’t beat the river. So I simply go limp, and by that I mean you stop using any energy for anything,” he said.

He let the current take him and hoped that whatever oxygen was left in his bloodstream would help him survive.

“I knew that I needed to hang on everything I had,” Hutch said. “And then you reach a point when your body starts to do what it was made to do, which is breathe. Logically, you’re still in control of your muscles at that point. And you’re going, ‘No, you can’t breathe underwater.’”

“And you could feel your body arguing with you going, ‘Okay, we need oxygen now,’” Hutch explained. “You’re like, ‘Yeah, yeah, but I don’t have any. We’re underwater.’ And your body said, ‘Yeah, that’s cool, but we’re going to breathe now.’ You’re like, ‘No, we’re not.’

The internal battle with his body and mind felt like it lasted a very long time.

“And then eventually, I lost the battle. And when people drink water, that is not the same feeling as breathing water. If you’ve ever seen concrete when it’s wet, it feels like that has been poured into your nose and mouth at lightning speed and it fills your entire body.”

“And so you immediately feel full, you feel heavy, and you feel like you weigh like 2,000 pounds. That was kind of the freakiest point along this journey so far, where I was like, Wow, I am done. I don’t have anything left,” Hutch recalled.

At that point, Hutch peacefully leaned into God’s control.

“I’m in your hands,” he remembered telling God. “I’m completely under your control.”

“Eventually, I floated to the surface. They guesstimate that I was underwater anywhere from 11 to 22 minutes. And somehow, I remember people hitting my chest,” he said.

“And then I remember seeing some kind of vehicle. And then I remember waking up in a pressure chamber which is inside a hospital. They slowly bring you back to the proper pressure within your head, because basically, I went down too fast, and came up too fast,” he said.

It’s a true miracle that Hutch survived.

“The fact that I can talk and walk and think, I mean, I’m an actor. My job relies entirely on me being able to speak and think and listen and operate. And so it really is a miracle that I’m alive, and I owe all that to God,” he said.

Movieguide® previously reported on the accident:

I should be completely, honestly dead. I shouldn’t have lived, and, if I did, I shouldn’t be able to speak, I shouldn’t be able to hear, I shouldn’t be able to talk.”

… “It is an absolute miracle, man. [In] weeks…I was fine. My eardrums didn’t completely explode; they should have,” he said.

Hutch compares his experience to other real-life problems.

“I think that’s the way life can be sometimes. Right? And there’s times when maybe you feel like you’re drowning in something,” he explained.

“Maybe it’s stress. Maybe it’s bills. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one. Fill in the blank with whatever the hard thing is for you right now or has been, and you feel like you’re drowning.”

Hutch is a devout follower of Christ. He applies his faith in his career as an actor on Great American Family and other projects.

“People can get offended sometimes if you stand your ground, and that’s okay,” he said in a Great American Pureflix interview. “I can’t live in that. I have to live in the fact that, hey, God put conviction on my heart. I gotta follow that.”

Hutch is set to star in an upcoming and unnamed “Civil War project.”

“I am completely stoked to be a part of a period piece,” he said. “What a fantastic time of history to bring to life. Great Crew and cast.”

He recently shared photos from the set on Instagram:


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