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Faith helps Oklahoma man grab hold of life after accident

Ever since Tyler Bowman lost his arms in an electrical shock accident in 2007, the Pawhuska native has embraced Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” One of those things is that he will graduate from University of Central Oklahoma.
by Bryan Painter Published: May 5, 2013

Ever since Tyler Bowman lost his arms in an electrical shock accident, the Pawhuska native has embraced one particular biblical verse.

Bowman nearly came up about 25 days short of turning 17 years old.

“I was on a four-wheeler, and a highline pole fell, and I ended up getting in a fight with the electrical line,” said Bowman, recalling June 4, 2007. “It was just a freak accident.

“Honestly, I shouldn't be alive, but it is by the grace of God that I am, and I know He has a plan for me. Whatever I can do to glorify Him, I'm going to attempt it.”

Bowman, who lost his left arm and part of his right arm, embraced Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

“All things” means many different things in this young's man life.

Bowman, 22, is on track to graduate from the University of Central Oklahoma in the summer. However, he will be walking in the College of Business and College of Fine Arts ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday. He will officially graduate July 30 with a bachelor of business administration degree, majoring in business administration-general business.

“If you want to define all things, I can do pretty much everything I did before, I just have to adapt and overcome,” he said. “It might take me a little bit longer to do something. Take the simplest thing like getting dressed. I wake up in the morning, I pull my arms on, and then I get dressed. It might take me a little bit longer to accomplish those tasks, but I can still do them. I'm completely independent. I have my own apartment.”

Bowman, whose family ranches near Pawhuska, doesn't want the custom prosthetic limbs to define him. He wants his faith to define him.

“You look at things as little as opening a gate, chain latches,” he said. “I have been sitting there struggling trying to get a chain latch open, because it's wedged in there or something. This has happened on more than one occasion. I will just drop the latch and say, ‘Lord please help me get this open.' I'll grab the chain and it pops open.”

How they work

When asked how his arms work, Bowman looks at each.

In layman terms, sensors that pick up biceps/triceps movement allow him to operate his left arm. If he wants to open his left hand, Bowman flexes the triceps muscle. To close it, he flexes his biceps muscle.

On the other side, he basically works “that muscle in my forearm” to operate the right arm.

Bowman is quick to remember the source of his strength to do all things, which again, is a long list.

A few months after the accident, his father, Ace Bowman, without the knowledge of his wife, Teresa, helped Tyler, with no left arm, get back in the saddle aboard one of the family's ranch horses. This was inevitable for Tyler, who has been told he was swinging a rope before his second birthday.

And a few months after that, Tyler went elk hunting in New Mexico.

“I knew it was going to be tough, because at that time I still didn't have my left arm,” he said. “So I had my crossbow on a tripodal. I ended up taking a cow elk.”

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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