ONE YEAR LATER: Cassopolis brothers happy to be alive following electrocution

CASSOPOLIS – When Austin Francis thinks back to last summer, he finds it hard to believe he is still alive.

“It’s a miracle,” he said. “I went from being dead to four days later walking out of a hospital.”

On July 25, 2020, brothers Austin and Lane Francis were setting up a sailboat for their father’s celebration of life when the boat came in contact with a power line. Both brothers were electrocuted and hospitalized following the accident.

Though they and their families initially feared the worst, the brothers would spend less than a week in the hospital and walk away with little more than a few burns and scars that they still have today.

However, other than the scars their bodies did not suffer any major issues. For a while, Austin took medication for his heart, and Lane was on blood thinners. Now, both Austin and Lane are medication-free and feel like they did before the accident.

“Me and Lane are both healthier people, and we are always doing something to stay in shape,” Austin said. “So, I believe that had an impact on our recovery.”

The brothers have also been told by many friends and family members that the whole accident was just their dad coming down and giving them a hug. Reid Francis passed away from cancer in early 2020.

“I do believe that our dad was with us that day,” Lane said. “If he was giving us a hug, then that was a crazy way to do it.”

Though a lot has changed in the personal lives of both Austin and Lane since the accident, they both still have two loves in life — sailing and helping the youth of Cassopolis.

The Francis family has been sailing for four generations, and Austin and Lane said not even being electrocuted on a sailboat could scare them away from the sport.

“One of the first things I looked forward to once my burns healed was sailing,” Austin said. “It’s something we have always done as a family and still keeps us connected to our dad.”

For Lane, sailing is not just a hobby but a way to teach a new generation the sport. For the last nine years, Lane has been an instructor at the Diamond Lake Yacht Club.

“I teach about 40 kids a summer, and it’s a tradition for our family,” Lane said. “My older sister, Brittany, was an instructor and so was Austin.”

This fall, Austin will continue his passion of coaching soccer. It will be his eighth year coaching at Cassopolis. He said a huge motivator while in the hospital was getting back to coaching.

“Coaching is something that I love to do,” Austin said. “But getting to be around the players is what I love most and is one of the first things I thought about in the hospital.”

Now a year removed from the accident that nearly claimed their lives, Lane is preparing to go into his junior year of college, while Austin is planning to marry his fiancée, Miranda Davis in October.

Looking back on the accident now, both Austin and Lane said they understand just how truly blessed they are to still be alive.

“I am thankful and understand just how lucky we are to be here today,” Lane said. “We somehow were able to escape death.”

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