After giving up stunts, Georgia man takes on new challenge: coming back from accident

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At 52, Michael Mooney admits as a magician-turned-stuntman they call "The Great Moodini," he's gotten himself into a few binds.

"A lot of crazy stuff, a lot of crazy stuff," Mooney laughs."

But there was nothing quite like the stunt he pulled back in 2011 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he found himself chained to a pace car, trying to wiggle out of his handcuffs, blindfolded.

"I'm actually tied with a 100-foot chain, handcuffed to my wrist," Mooney remembers. "The car takes off, then I've gotta get them two locks off."

Things didn't go well.

Mooney was dragged, flipping several times when he couldn't get free from the handcuffs in time.
In hindsight, he says, the blindfold really complicated things.

"I didn't see the car when it took off," Mooney says.  "The chain is rattling and I realized, 'Oh, I'm in trouble."

He landed in the ICU with several broken bones. Almost overnight, the video of his stunt-gone-epically-wrong went viral.

"'World's Dumbest,' I got kind ridiculed by Tonya Harding on that show," Mooney smiles.
Back home in Calhoun, Georgia, Mooney gave up the stunts, started selling jewelry, and found a new passion, motorcycles.

"You just feel different on a bike," he says.  "Nothing like feeling the wind in your face."

That may be the irony of what happened to Mooney on November 5, 2017.

He wasn't doing anything risky, just out riding his motorcycle with friends.

Coming around a curve, a camper being towed in the opposite direction, swerved into his lane, and struck Mooney hard.

"It hit me so fast, I didn't see it," he remembers.  "It hit me and knocked me off the bike, caused my leg to be amputated, and (me to have) plastic surgery on my hand."

That's how he ended up here at Floyd Medical Center's physical therapy and rehab center in Rome.

"I wanted to live, I wanted to walk again," he says.

Mooney is one of the first amputees to join Floyd Medical's new limb loss program, the only one of its kind in here northwest Georgia.

"Rome seems to be in this triangle between Birmingham, Atlanta, and Chattanooga," Megan Snider, a physical therapist who helped create the program, says.  "For for a lot of people, it's not very easy to drive to one of these places to get to a dedicated program."

Here, a team of physical and occupational therapists is pushing Mooney to build up his strength and endurance.

It's tough going.

"There's times I just want to say, 'Stop it, I'm done, leave me alone," he says.
But, he knows he needs this, to be able to use a mechanical leg.

 "I have emotional moments," Mooney says. "You wake up in the middle of the night, and you've got your leg gone.  You have things that you used to do and you'll never be able to do again."

Physical therapist Megan Snider says they try to focus on what amputees can do.

"You come in and you talk to them and they say, 'Guess what!  I could stand up at the sink and brush my teeth. I felt safe. I felt balanced,'" Snider says.

Michael Mooney gets emotional when he talks about his treatment team.

"If I won 100 million dollars in the lottery, every one of my PT, my OTs, my nurses, I'd get them a new car," Mooney says.  "Because that's how much they meant to me. They gave me my life back."

He still has months of therapy ahead before he will be ready to use this prosthetic leg.
Michael Mooney says the stunt he'll be most proud of is to one-day walk out of here on his new leg, feeling whole.

"I'm going to walk again, and I'm not going to be doing anything crazy, but I'll at least have my life," Mooney says.