It was winter 1988, and Joe Parenti was 23, driving home after filling up his gas tank, when he was blindsided by a stolen car going 80 mph at 162nd Avenue and 91st Street.
He went into cardiac arrest and nearly died at the scene. When doctors took a closer look, they noticed that Parenti had a “swollen and twisted brain” and major damage to his spinal cord, among other injuries. They told his family that if he were to survive, he would suffer from brain damage for the rest of his life.
“It was the type of experience that I wasn’t sure I would survive from,” Parenti said.
The Howard Beach resident has now written a book about the crash in the hope of inspiring others.
Its name, “Miracle on 91st Street,” is the perfect setup for what follows between the covers. Those who have heard his story, as well as Parenti, believe that it is a miracle he is still alive.
In the book, he takes the reader through his time growing up in Howard Beach, the accident and the ensuing years of recovery, which is where his message lies.
Spending seven months in three different hospitals, switching doctors and receiving numerous types of treatment taught Parenti lessons that he still carries with himself and is now sharing with others.
“All that time in the hospital really made me think,” he said. “It taught me to not worry about the little things in life and the power of perseverance.”
Throughout the novel, Parenti looks back on all the people who were there to help him through his recovery. He mentions the West Hamilton Beach Fire Department and credits them with his life, saying, “Without the quick response and expert care of The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department, I would not be alive today.”
He is donating a portion of his profits from the book to the fire department to show his gratitude.
Even though Parenti, 49, is still dealing with some aftereffects of the accident, he says he has only gotten happier each day since the crash.
He is now a self-employed CPA residing in West Hempstead and still lives by two life lessons he learned because of the accident: the power of perseverance and that anything is possible.
“The accident changed my outlook in terms of where I’m heading in life,” Parenti said. “I want my story to inspire people to fight for what they want and never give in.”