About The Artist
Matthew Raynor Is a avid traveler, commercial fisherman, and photographer. Before his accident he chronicled his time at sea through photography. On April 18, 2018 Matthew suffered a severe spinal injury resulting in paralysis below his collarbone, he has no hand movement and limited arm mobility. Despite being bound to a power chair he continues to capture the beauty of Mother Nature as a testament To the powerful healing effect of art. All proceeds from is art sales go directly towards his recovery.
Below is a news article which accounts his experience on the day he broke his neck.
"It was April 18, the trees weren't out yet. It was a stormy day — cloudy and windy. I had been fishing out of Montauk on the fishing vessel Perception and I was currently off of crew rotation. I had one week left before I had to go out fishing for a month," he Said
Raynor said he had been swimming recently in the cold waters of Peconic Bay. "It was extremely refreshing and it was also helping with tendonitis I had been experiencing. On this particular day, I drove down to the channel at Towd Point; it was a full moon so the tide was all the way up. The entire channel was filled with water. I had remembered jumping in the channel as a kid and finding clay, playing with it."
The channel at that point was deep, he said.
"I used to launch my boat in North Sea Harbor and exit through this channel to go scalloping out in Peconic Bay by Robins Island. So I thought I was very familiar with it. I had dozens of track lines on my GPS going through that channel. So I decided to dive in the water. It was really refreshing and enjoyable."
He dove in a few times, the water so crystal clear you could even see the bottom, Raynor said.
"It was this beautiful blue color which you only see when the water is cold in Peconic," he added.
(here is a picture of me in the garlic fields of Vietnam)
The experience was so fulfilling that he went to pick up his close friend Jerome Lucani.
"We came back to the Point and I dove in a few more times," he said. "At this point I was pretty cold and tired but decided to jump in one more time. This time I didn't do the shallow dive I had done at least eight times before."
(Here is a picture of me riding a horse in Andnes, 13,500)
And then tragedy struck.
"I don't remember it, but I hit the bottom. The next thing I remember I was facedown, completely paralyzed in the frigid waters," Raynor said.
Because it was a moon tide, the water was rushing out of the channel into the Peconic; there was also a strong wind, he said. "The combination of the moon tide and the stormy day created an extremely strong push out into the Peconic. I was in this tide completely lucid, staring at the bottom. I remember thinking it was going to be difficult for Jerome to retrieve me from the channel because at this point I was in the middle of it — you couldn't stand — and I was being rushed out."
"I knew I was either going to drown or be paralyzed for life"
"There were many thoughts I had at this moment, because I knew I was either going to drown or be paralyzed for life," Raynor said. "The longer the time went on, the more likely I knew that it was going to be a death scenario. I remember thinking that I had lived a full life. I remember thinking that I didn't regret any of the stupid things that I done and I was happy with the person that I had become. I was happy that I got to travel and see the world. I was very happy that I got to spend so much time on the water doing what I love. I also remember thinking that I was really glad I got to do a road trip in the late winter visiting national parks in the west. I had resigned myself to my death in the frigid waters of Towd Point."
(A picture taken of me at the Shepherd Center for spinal cord rehabilitation)
His friend Jerome, Raynor said, eventually realized that he was in great distress and waded out into the water.
"At this point I had been facedown, drowned, for a few minutes," he said. "He swam out to me and pushed me toward the shore. When he got a foothold on the sand he dragged me by my shoulders halfway onto the sand and proceeded to do CPR. I was lying on the sand with blue lips, my eyes wide open, but with no signs of life."
The CPR, Raynor said, was successful and he regained consciousness. "Being half in the water I told Jerome to drag me up onto the beach. The wind was blowing sand into my eyes and face and I could imagine my body, as well — but I couldn't feel it at that point."
His friend called 911 and then, help came and he was airlifted to the hospital. His body temperature was 88.2 degrees.
"I view whatever time I have here as extra. I should have died that day, but here I am."
Left with a grave spinal cord injury, Raynor has remained unfailingly upbeat and positive.
"I view my whatever time I have here as extra," he said. "I should have died that day, but here I am. Also, I think being totally lucid when I was drowning helped me maintain a positive outlook. I was glad to come back to life. I had a very strong spiritual experience that will be imprinted on my psyche forever."
Raynor said he is also blessed by an amazing support system and people in his life who care and help tremendously.
"So much has been taken away from me but so much has been given back by wonderful people," he said.
When he feels down or overwhelmed, Raynor said he tries to meditate, change his perspective, and generate gratitude for all the positives that have emerged from the darkness.
"It can be extremely difficult because to be honest, it is a crisis situation, that's why it's so imperative to keep a positive outlook," he said.