'AGT: Extreme' stuntman Jonathan Goodwin was told 'there was a really good chance I wouldn't make it'
Jonathan Goodwin, the America’s Got Talent: Extreme contestant who was paralyzed in a stunt gone wrong, is opening up about the horrible accident.
"I don't really have a great memory," the stuntman said on Friday's Good Morning America of the October 13 accident. "I know that there was a moment where I knew it was going wrong."
While rehearsing on the set at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Georgia, Goodwin was supposed to free himself from restraints while suspended from a wire 40 above the ground, then fall onto an air mattress below. However, he became sandwiched between two colliding cars, which then burst into flames. He fell to the ground, missing the airbag, in a scene so horrific, onlookers thought he died. He was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition — and cheated death a second time during surgery.
He told GMA that his injuries included broken legs and shoulders, a damaged kidney, a punctured lung, fractured ribs and a complete spinal fracture. He also suffered third-degree burns.
"The spinal surgeon said that my injury was the worst that he'd ever seen," Goodwin said. "Also told me that there was a really good chance I wouldn't make it through the surgery."
Having revealed earlier this week for the first time that he's paralyzed from the waist down, he talked about the adjustment now that he's using a wheelchair.
"The closest thing that I can explain is that it's like somebody waves a magic wand and all of a sudden you're a baby and you have to learn everything you know," he said.
That said, "Obviously there are lots of things that I have lost, but I'm not concentrating on that — for me, it was about creating a spectacle for an audience, showing people things that they'd never seen before. And that's absolutely something I can still do. Maybe in a different form," said Goodwin has said he wants to be a "roll model."
Goodwin, who is Welsh, revealed on the morning show that he moved from Las Vegas to London to be closer to his fiancée, Sherlock actress Amanda Abbington, as well as family, as he navigates his new normal. The couple has already made modifications to their 300-year-old London home so it's easier for him to get around, including the addition of an elevator.
Goodwin said he initially gave Abbington, whom he became engaged to just one month before the accident, the chance to walk away, no strings attached, after his accident.
"I said to her, 'You know — clearly you have a get out of jail free card,'" he said. "Amanda has been there for me every day since and has been and was really my motivation to get through it."
On Friday, the couple appeared together on ITV’s Lorraine in the U.K. — and he also talked about giving Abbington the change to leave if she wasn't up for what was ahead.
"'If you want to walk away, then I completely understand,'" he recalled telling her. Her reply? "She told me not to be so stupid."
Abbington said they "are closer and tighter than ever. We just have this unspoken thing."
And their wedding will take place sooner rather than later — likely some time this year.
"Life's too short," Abbington said.
Abbington first revealed Goodwin's paralysis on Monday's Out to Lunch podcast. She said he "nearly died" twice, first from the fall and then again on the operating table.
Goodwin the confirmed the news Tuesday in an Instagram post. However, he quipped, "If any of you want to race though, I'm pretty sure I can beat you… #BringIt."
The America's Got Talent spin-off — judged by Simon Cowell, WWE wrestler Nikki Bella and motocross/rally car driver Travis Pastrana and hosted by Terry Crews — halted production at the time of Goodwin's accident, but eventually resumed. The show premiered on in February, the month Goodwin was released from the hospital, and had its finale in March.