My latest from the June 18, 2012 Boston Globe
BARRINGTON, R.I. – Dana Quigley will never forget the route. A straight shot down 45th Street to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. Easy. Five minutes to reach his son, to see his best friend.
Whenever the phone rings at night in his West Palm Beach home, Quigley, the 2005 Champions Tour Player of the Year, jumps out of bed to answer. What if the kids are in trouble? At 1 a.m. last Dec. 1, a call woke the golfer dubbed “Iron Man,’’ shoving him into a living nightmare.
Quigley answered. Silence on the other end. He texted Devon, his son, who was out that night at a friend’s birthday party. You just pocket-dialed me, Quigley wrote. That’s when the police called back.
“You need to get down here right away,’’ the officer said.
“Well, how bad is it?’’ Quigley responded.
“You just need to get down here.”
Here meant St. Mary’s. Less than two hours prior, Devon’s BMW barreled into a semi-truck in Riviera Beach. Paramedics needed an hour to remove Devon from his car. Quigley was unable to identify his own son’s swollen face. Doctors said the 27-year-old would not live, and put him in a medically induced coma. Quigley went to the parking lot with his wife, Angie, where they cried.
The morning after the accident, two pastor friends visited Quigley at home. Devon’s not even your son, they said. He’s God’s son. And you just have to accept that.
“It got me over the hump that morning,’’ said Quigley, who on Monday and Tuesday will make his 11th appearance at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic, Devon’s favorite tournament, here at Rhode Island Country Club. “I thought I’d be devastated. But I wasn’t. I was actually calm and at peace.’’
Three weeks before the accident, Dana and Devon were baptized together. Together like when Devon caddied for his father on the Champions Tour, where Dana has won 11 tournaments. Together like their early-morning rounds at Bear Lake Country Club in West Palm Beach, where they played all day, every day.
“The saddest part of it all? I’m missing my best friend,’’ said Quigley on Sunday, sporting a pink-striped polo with a “Devo Strong’’ logo, complete with a heart and angel wings. “It’s tough. But I know that God has a plan for him, and I’m willing to accept it.’’
Quigley and his wife never visit the accident site. They drive by, but never look. Never went to the police station to see the totaled car, either. They focus all their energy on Devon, awoke from the coma after three or four months. The exact date is sketchy. Doctors didn’t realize it until the Quigleys sent them video of Devon answering questions with his eyes.
Sunday was Father’s Day, a day Dana Quigley, who was born in Lynnfield, usually spends on the road. Devon watched the US Open on television throughout the weekend. Dana returned to Rhode Island CC, where he used to caddie alongside his nephew, Brett.
“We’re probably as close as any golfing family could be,’’ said Brett, a PGA Tour player who will also be competing in the CVS Caremark Charity Classic. “Getting back on the course, Dana sees how strong a support group the golf community is. Everyone just wants to know what’s going on, that they’ve been thinking about the whole family.’’
Devon has regained total cognition. He will soon get hooked up with a computer. He might be able to text his father, the Iron Man who made 278 consecutive Champions Tour starts from 1997-2005. Dana anticipates a simple first message.
I love you.
“It’s amazing,’’ Dana said. “If you saw him, you would just swear he could get up and walk away. The doctors are amazed at what physical shape his body is in.’’
One day, beside Devon’s bed, Dana issued a proclamation. When we’re back playing golf, he said, I will finally outhit you, something Devon used to do by 50 yards before the crash.
“Look up if you think I’ll outhit you,’’ Dana said.
“You still think you can outhit me?’’
Devon Quigley’s eyes shot straight up.