From The Web

The biggest hero at the Phoenix Open works in the parking lot, not on the golf course

Jason also has one framed SI cover of Tiger Woods winning the Masters.

Because it's Tiger?

No, because Jason was there.

The number one thing on his bucket list was going to the Masters, so he and some buddies scored tickets (I shouldn't ask how, he says) and went.

Shouldn't number one on your list be playing Augusta National, I ask. He laughs loudly. "Yeah," he says, "but that's never going to happen."

Also in that frame is a two-page photo spread from the front of the magazine of Tiger making the winning putt at the 18th green. When he saw that SI photo, Jason raced to grab a magnifying glass to give it a closer look because he was stationed at that green. Yes, he found himself in the photo. Cross off another bucket-list item. Jason has already appeared in Sports Illustrated.

Everything in this room has special meaning for Jason. If you can see past the Roll Tide stuff, including the 'Bama logo Jason has tattooed on the back of his calf, it's very cool. But it's not all fun and games. There's a gag sign: "If you're smoking, you'd better be on fire!" And there are the not-so funny souvenirs, the sobering relics of The Accident.

The story of The Accident would be more heroic if Jason had been badly hurt pulling an old lady out of a burning building. But that's not what happened. Maybe the real story is better because it's a reminder that police officers and firefighters are in harm's way every minute they're on duty. That's why they're heroes.

Jason's squad car was stopped at an intersection for a red light on the night of March 26, 2001. A runaway taxicab going 70-80 mph slammed into the back of Jason's car, turning it into a fireball. The cabbie suffered some kind of seizure and was involuntarily pressing the accelerator. The passenger trapped in the back seat - imagine that terror - escaped with broken ribs. The driver, who also survived, had suffered several previous seizures and wasn't supposed to be behind the wheel again. He drew a 12-year prison sentence.

Firefighters arrived at the scene quickly and were shocked to learn that someone - Jason - was trapped behind the wheel of the flaming wreck in the street. Hoses poured water in, a fellow officer on the scene found a big knife and cut through the seat belt so Jason could be pulled out. That knife is here, under glass in the man cave, along with a photo of the officers who extracted Jason from the car.

Jason points out another photo, where he's posing with the scrap pile that was once his squad car. The wreckage was kept for several years for legal reasons, and when he learned it was going to be destroyed, he went to the garage for a photo op. Jason doesn't remember any of The Accident, mercifully. The flames burned his face off and ravaged his hands. He suffered third- or fourth-degree burns over 43 percent of his body. He survived, he keeps moving forward, he's unsinkable.

There's something else. The uniform shirt he wore in the crash. When he officially retired from the police force in 2006, he was on stage at his retirement and presented with a surprise gift from his best friend and police partner, Bryan Chapman.

"Bryan went down to the evidence room at the station and said, 'I need Jason's uniform,' and they still had it," Jason says. "This thing was rolled up in a paint can. Bryan didn't even have it cleaned. My badge was there, too, still covered in soot. I had no idea they survived."

Chapman had the items mounted on the state flag of Arizona and presented it to Jason at his retirement reception. There weren't many dry eyes in the room.

"I was very emotional," Jason says. "There's all kinds of crap on the shirt, but it looks better than I do. I think it's beautiful."

A year-and-a-half after The Accident, Pauline Arrillaga of the Associated Press wrote a three-part series detailing Jason's incredible ordeal and slow recovery. It's nightmarish and grim at times, a story not for the faint-hearted. But it's also a tale of remarkable determination.

Maybe there are only two things you really need to know. One is Jason's young son, Zane. Several months after Jason returned home to convalesce, 3-year-old Zane knew one thing about the man with the strange face sitting in their living room chair - that was not his daddy.

The other involves the two police officers who pulled Jason from his burning car. As they loaded him onto a gurney, a chunk of burned flesh fell from Jason's arm, leaving a white patch underneath. One officer said later what they were both thinking: "I'm not sure we did this guy a favor."


The adventures of Jason Schechterle, inspirational public speaker:

"My wife and I had our third child 18 months after my accident. Everybody asks me, How did that happen? 'Well, not everything got burned.'"


The ritual begins anew each night. Jason removes his hard contact lenses, no small feat with his reconstructed hands. He's got a special mini-plunger for that task. Then he winds Saran Wrap around his head a couple of times before he goes to sleep. That's to keep the moisture in because Jason has no eyelids. Those were burned off.

In the morning, he removes the wrap and when the air hits his eyes, it stings like a swarm of bees. Jason rushes to apply saline solution and eye wash, but it takes him about an hour to prep his eyes to put the hard lenses back in.

Go to Page 4

PGA Tour News
Travel & Courses
Tips & Videos
The Shop
Equipment News & Reviews