GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., (WZZM) -- We've all heard about near death experiences, but do you know anybody that's ever had one? A Michigan man says he is still guided by the guardian angels that he spoke to when he died.
"I was drinking a fifth of vodka and a case of beer every day; I drank myself to death", says David Milarch.
It happened at his home in Copemish. "It's kind of a slow, agonizing death because you can't get rid of any of the toxins or poisons. You blow up, turn yellow."
In 1991, Milarch had a wife and two young sons. "I went to the bedroom and I told my wife, I don't want the boys to come in. I've had it with this lifestyle. I'm either coming out dead or sober."
Three days later, a family friend took him to the hospital. He did receive some treatment but demanded to go back home. Doctors warned if he did, he would die. "Well, the doctor was right and so was I. That night I died, my body gave up."
David was pushed toward a bright light and taken to a peaceful place. Then, he says his guardian angels told him told to go back. "Uh, oh. Am I getting booted out of heaven? They said, 'No, you have work to do.'"
"We want to have scientific explanation for everything", says Father John Geaney at St. Andrew's Cathedral. He doesn't know anyone who's had a near-death experience, but says he believes in angels.
"When I was a child, I was taught every night to say a prayer to my guardian angel." Geaney says angels help him understand scripture; they can also guide people through difficult situations.
Marty Hodges of Kalamazoo had an experience skiing in Colorado. "The ski patroller yells avalanche. I heard a loud boom, like a snap."
Hodges and his two sons were with a guide when they were hit by a wall of snow. Jordan says, "And there was a bunch of snow going down my throat. I couldn't breathe for 20 seconds."
"I went into darkness, I rolled, and rolled. I felt as though it was over, I was going to die", says Marty. He had a vision that his boys were dead and being put on a plane. "Me out on the tarmac, putting these guys in caskets, sliding them into the airplane." Marty saw light and dug himself out of the snow. He was able to find his sons, who were not hurt. It was a close-call, but Marty doesn't think it was the work of guardian angels. He describes it as a moment of clarity. "It's changed me. I re-evaluated what I consider to be safe, I guess."
Father Geaney says, "I think its hard to distinguish those things. I think if you're a person of faith, you tend to live in the faith."
Shortly after David Milarch's experience, he says angels came to him in his sleep. He was told to write a letter, but doesn't remember putting words on paper. "But, at three minutes to six, I woke up and there was a ten-page outline of this project.
The project was to clone giant trees that were thousands of years old. The only experience he had with trees was at his dad's nursery when he was a kid. "So, I knew about raising nursery trees but nothing about 3,000-7,000 year old ones that are bigger than this building."
Milarch's mission is called the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. The non-profit group takes clippings from trees like redwoods and sequoias and grows new ones in their lab. Milarch's success is widely acclaimed. He's been written about several times including several articles in the New York Times, USA Today, and National Public Radio.
His two sons are also involved in the project. They say they believe that their dad had a near death experience with guardian angels. Jake says, "It's cool. I'm just glad my dad's around. He's a good dad. I'm sure it was serious, cause he was pretty extreme the other way."
Today, David, is still sober and makes no attempt to hide the genesis of his project. He knows some people may not believe it, but at this point, it doesn't matter. His mission is to save the trees and so far, it's been successful. "It's a real walk of faith," says Milarch.
You can learn more about the Archangel Tree Archive by going to: www.ancienttreearchive.org