From tragedy to triumph: a Lincoln man is honored after a horrific accident

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Kaleb White is a freelance photographer. He said his life was changed forever after an assignment in New Zealand.

"He just told me 'love you, and tell the boys I love you,'" Becky White, Kaleb's wife, said.

His assignment was to spend nearly eight days capturing wild stag and the people hunting them.

"We had some great light kind of cloudy overcast days that were perfect for capturing wildlife imagery," Kaleb said.

He said his personal mission was to capture a stag roaring.

"The guide had dropped me off [and] I'd gotten down to eye level with the stags so I could sneak up on them wearing full camouflage," he said.

Kaleb took a few pictures of a stag before it ran off. He said when his guide was returning to pick Kaleb up, he didn't know exactly where he was. He ended up running over him.

"The tires ran up my legs up past my stomach, past my thoracic, and up past my head, I could feel bones breaking," said Kaleb.

The truck stopped directly on top of him, lacerating both lungs, breaking 10 ribs, fracturing his collar bone, and creating a hernia in his diaphragm.

I didn't really know what was going on other than being conscious and thinking this was probably the end," he said.

But it wasn't.

"I only thought of three things before I passed out and that was my wife and two boys -- and then just total blackness," he said.

Becky was Lincoln with their two young boys when she learned Kaleb had been in an accident.

"I didn't sleep or relax until I was right next to him and knew that he was okay," she said.

Kaleb said it's been a long and emotional recovery that's still ongoing today, two years later. But, he has his family to keep him going.

He said he focuses on staying in the present and wrapping up some unfinished business.

"I knew I still wanted to capture the image I was after," Kaleb said.

So he went back to New Zealand to the very spot where his accident happened.

"I was still in pain...I was still on opioids trying to get through all of this," said Kaleb.

He said he entered the photo of the stag roaring and nine others in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards and made the shortlist. In the next few weeks judges will decide if he's a finalist. If he is, he will go to London for a chance to win $25,000 and Sony gear.

Kaleb said he was able to get to where he is today because of the support from his family and children.

"If people are in a hard place they can get through anything. They've got a lot to live for and not letting anything hold them back -- even being ran over by a truck," he said.