Motorcycle road trips across the United States were a lifelong dream, and now, with children grown up and a new work posting to Texas, it finally seemed within reach for Chris and Denise Arthey. But only a few hours down the road, on an arrow-straight stretch of Highway 35, devastation struck. A drunk driver veered across the carriageway and their Harley-Davidson was involved in a head-on collision. One medic commented after the air ambulances lifted off that “the motorcyclists may not make it”.
The Artheys did “make it”, and then some. Both lost their left leg above the knee, and Chris suffered serious head and internal injuries, but their survival was remarkable.
Even more remarkable is the story of their recovery. As Chris and Denise learned to cope with pain and a new reality, they simply refused to become physically held back, or to be frozen in anger and regret. They have gone on to lead extraordinarily full lives; returning to their vocations and taking another overseas posting to the Middle East before building new roles as ambassadors in the prosthetics industry. Chris has taken on marathons and triathlons, Mount Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp and a master’s degree along the way.
With an honesty that is both raw and vulnerable, the Artheys take us on their unique journey of hope against all odds, explaining how they rebuilt their lives, ‘step by step’, after their accident.
More than a compelling story of survival, Highway 35 is an account of astounding personal strength and fighting spirit, of depth and integrity of relationship and uncompromising faith in the face of the most difficult of challenges.
What people are saying
“This story will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. Chris and Denise together faced a sink or swim situation after the most horrifying accident. Many would have simply given up, but this is a story of resilience, fortitude and forgiveness like no other. Prepare to be gripped, moved and inspired.”Julia StrachanWorld Record Atlantic Rower and Author of 'Row for Freedom: Crossing an Ocean in Search of Hope'
“It is very rare that you see the embodiment of the human spirit and faith in God so powerfully expressed in a story of personal tragedy. I am honored to call Chris and Denise my friends and they are, simply put, an inspiration to everyone that has crossed their path. My hope is that that through this book they can touch many more lives just as they have touched mine.”Lee M. TillmanCEO, Marathon Oil Corporation
“This book is a story of hope, courage, and determination. While most of us will never live through similar physical struggles, many will face huge life challenges and this book will encourage everyone to lean in and trust that one can overcome obstacles, and flourish on the other side. Chris and Denise, thank you for inspiring us all.”Zoe Clark-Coates MBEAuthor, Media Commentator and CEO
“This is one of the most remarkable stories of physical recovery from devastating injury that I have come across. It is a story of determination, not only to survive the immediate trauma, but to return to life in all its abundance. It is a story of learning to walk again, yes, but also learning to run marathons and climb Kilimanjaro, of setting goals and achieving them. It is a story of choosing to forgive, and to embrace life. And these two individuals, two of the most remarkable people I have come to know, are shining examples of just what is humanly possible with hearts submitted to a God who made us and has faith in us.”Paul DijkstraConsultant Sport & Exercise Medicine Physician; Former UK Athletics Chief Medical Officer (2008 – 2013)
“This account of Chris and Denise’s journey since their devastating accident captures astounding traits of resilience and determination in being human. They have faced insurmountable challenges together as a devoted couple with a firm foundation in their faith, fighting relentlessly for their own mobility and quality of life. They now participate actively in the science and engineering of lower limb prosthesis development for the benefit of others, and this book encapsulates their remarkable story of endurance, belief, and strength of character to never give up.”Professor Sir Saeed Zahedi OBE RDI FREngChair of Product Advisory Group, Blatchford
“What happened to Chris and Denise Arthey that day in May 2008 is nothing short of miraculous, given the atrocious injuries they sustained. Here they tell their story in amazingly candid detail. They share their struggles as they wrestle with what happened to them on the terrible day; learning to live with a new normal; and how their faith helped them in the desperate hours. This is a truly inspiring and faith-building account of how, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God is always with us.”Rev Ross DilnotSenior Pastor of Shenley Christian Fellowship in Milton Keynes, England
“... a remarkable journey of survival, recovery and rehab, love and support based on living life to the fullest. The Artheys share their life and inspirational story in this book.Professor Liudi Jiang CEng CPhys FIETProfessor of Materials and Electromechanical Systems, University of Southampton
Gripped from the start, I was astonished with the Artheys’ strength (both physical and mental), lived through their journey, was moved to tears by Chris’ final victim statement in court, and came out of the book feeling extremely grateful for things we take for granted...
The Artheys have written a must-read primer for anyone trying to comprehend lower limb amputations, how much can be achieved with strong wills and love, with the support from modern amputee care and prosthetic technologies.”
“Chris and Denise Arthey are two of the most extraordinary people I know. This book tells their story of finding hope in the midst of tragedy, of forgiveness and a faith that shaped their determination not to be held back by circumstances. It is nothing short of inspirational. Just like them.”Bill CahusacPastor, Emmaus Rd Church
“For anyone with a disability life is often difficult, but this is particularly true if the disability happens later in life. Denise and Chris share their story in an honest and moving way. One of the advantages this couple had was the support and prayers of a local church. The practical and spiritual input from fellow Christians stands out. The Church is a family and this shines through a story of pain and hope.”Jeremy R Balfour MSPMember of the Scottish Parliament for the Lothian Region
“This is a story (beautifully written) of quiet heroism. Encompassing tragedy and despair, resilience and redemption, ‘Highway 35’ is the kind of story that awakens hope in the lives of anyone it touches. Whatever struggles you are facing, I am confident that there is something here for you.”Pete Greig24-7 Prayer International and Emmaus Rd Church
“A moving and inspiring story of courage, resilience and endurance. In taking us to the scene of the accident, and through their rollercoaster of recovery, Chris and Denise Arthey don’t pull their punches. Their story demonstrates the incredible power of unity in marriage, the strength of family and the power of prayer to transform hopeless situations. This extraordinary account of faith and determination helps put our momentary troubles into perspective, and inspires hope.”Katharine HillUK Director of Care for the Family
“Highway 35 is a compelling true-life story. It demonstrates how forgiveness, hope and the love of God and close friends and family can transcend the pain and suffering of a life-altering accident. Chris and Denise Arthey give a raw and honest account of their experience of disability and this book is a great read for anyone who needs reminding that God is good and with us in our darkest times, even if it is beyond our understanding.”Tim WoodCEO, Through the Roof Charity
“'HIGHWAY 35' I was deeply moved recently when I read 'Highway 35 - meeting disaster head-on with hope' by local authors and speakers Chris and Denise Arthey, who are constituents and near neighbours. Fifteen years ago they both lost their left legs in a horrible road accident. However, with the support of family, friends, and their church, they’ve both made a remarkable recovery and lead extraordinarily full lives. They both resumed their vocations and Chris returned to endurance sports as a para-athlete. It really is an inspirational story. ”Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MPChancellor of the Exchequer and MP for South West Surrey