USA Today: By Jordan Mendoza – Terry Wayne Wallis, the Arkansas man who spent 19 years in a coma before regaining awareness and speaking in 2003, died last week, according to an obituary. He was 57.
Wallis was in an automobile accident in his home state of Arkansas with a friend in July 1984, six weeks after his daughter, Amber, was born, according to the obituary in Roller Funeral Homes. The car plunged into a creek, and the two weren’t found until the following day, underneath a bridge, the Associated Press reported in 2003. Wallis’ friend was killed while Wallis was put into a coma. The accident had left him a quadriplegic.
Wallis remained in the coma for 19 years, until June 12, 2003, when we said “mom,” his first word since he was comatose.
After regaining awareness, Wallis slowly was able to say “anything he wants to say,” according to Stone County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center social director Alesha Badgley. The media and medical attention that surrounded Wallis afterward resulted in him being named “The Man Who Slept for 19 Years.”
The obituary said Wallis’ mother, Angilee, and other family “cared for him relentlessly during his coma and afterward.” Family brought him home on alternate weekends for years as doctors believed it would help his awakening period, as he still thought it was 1984 when he regained awareness. His mother died in 2018.
The obituary said Wallis enjoyed eating “anything at any time and loved drinking Pepsi.” He died on March 29 in the city of Big Flat, Arkansas.
“Terry was a great teaser and loved to tease his sister. His wonderful sense of humor will be greatly missed by his family,” the obituary read.