Comedian Paralyzed After Falling Through Skylight While on a Date Found Love and a New Outlook on Life

One way Jason Saenz processes his new reality is through his comedy. His one-man show, which he wrote, is called “The Wheel World.” It's his story of becoming paralyzed.

In 2018, Jason Sáenz was a comedian whose career was on the rise. An accident changed everything. 

“I felt like I was well on my way to having the career and the life I wanted in Los Angeles,” he tells Inside Edition Digital. 

He’d met a woman named Erin through performing. After months of communicating back and forth, they finally began dating. Their third date was on Nov. 30, 2018. 

“We came back to my apartment building and went up on the rooftop,” Jason says. “I told her that you could see the Hollywood sign, and in retrospect, I probably should have just made a move on her in my apartment. But instead, we went up onto the rooftop. We leaned up against a skylight together, and we both fell through it. I remember hearing the glass crack. That's the last thing I remember until I woke up in the ambulance.”

Erin, who was concussed in the fall, tells Inside Edition Digital that after they hit the ground, she looked over and saw that Jason was unconscious. 

“I just, honestly, didn't know what was happening. What had just happened didn't make sense,” she says. “I started screaming for help, thankfully, and people came out and started to help and call 911.

“I don't even think he remembers this part, but he couldn't feel his legs," she continues. "And I just remember thinking, ‘What are you talking about? That can't be what he means.’”

Jason landed on a staircase as he fell. 

“And I got severely paralyzed at that moment,” he says. “I don't remember hitting. I don't remember falling.”

After being rushed to the hospital, Jason says doctors rushed to put his spine back in together. But all the while, he thought he was alright.

“I was awake," he says. "I was texting friends, I was telling them that I got injured, but I'm in the hospital, I'm OK, I'm alive.”

Then, his condition worsened.

“I developed spinal meningitis and battled that for about a month in ICU,” Jason says. “It got pretty scary with the swelling on my spine and my brain from the meningitis. I don't remember that period at all.”

Erin saw him briefly around this time, and said she could tell something was different. 

“He was really uncomfortable that day. He was really quiet,” she says. “The next day, his family was like, ‘Please don't come today. He is not doing well.’ And that happened for 30 to 40 days. I didn't get to see him at all.”

A lot of this time is fuzzy for Jason. 

“Where my memory starts to really come back was in rehab after the meningitis when I was slowly doing physical therapy and mental therapy trying to come back,” Jason says. “My brain was still very scrambled during that time.”

He was in the ICU for 30 days and in the hospital for another five months. Like many performers, Jason didn’t have health insurance. His comedy family stepped in, created a GoFundMe and put on several fundraisers to raise money for his medical expenses. 

“It just moved my heart to know that all my friends through the decades that I've been an adult trying to live and do my career, and the friends that have helped me get to where I am, were helping me again," he says. "Man, meant the world to me.”

While recovering, Jason processed his accident.

“It was a slow burn for me to learn the impact of what this injury caused," he says. "So, the gravity of me being paralyzed didn't hit until I think all my mental faculties had come back. And I knew the severity of the injury.”

Throughout the process, the woman who he was still getting to know on the night of the incident remained by his side, even if it wasn't literally at first.

Erin texted Jason every day, left him a voicemail, and checked in as much as she could. When he was better, she began visiting him again.  

“Erin started coming to see me immediately,” Jason says. “I was in bad shape, unresponsive, not looking good, and I understand that. But she never gave up. She kept trying. She’d come to see me every Sunday, and we would go on rehab dates.

“At first, I didn't know how I felt about her seeing me still," he continues. "I'm sick, and I'm injured, and I'm in the hospital, and I weigh half what I used to weigh, and I'm never going to walk again. Do I want her to see me like that?”

But Erin stayed. And the pair grew together. 

“He still was trying to make little jokes, and I could see a glimpse of him still in there,” Erin says. “That was all I needed to know. I didn't know what we would be, but I was at least grateful that he was himself in there. It was deep in there, but it was in there.”

“She really showed me a lot of love during that time,” Jason says. “I just knew if I get out of rehab, I want to keep a relationship with her.

“Up until that moment (of the accident), (it was) a really, really good date. We had a lot of fun together, and I've done a lot of therapy to forgive myself about deciding to go up on the roof that night," he continues. "But I'm happy that I did it with Erin, with nobody else other than Erin, because she stuck by my side.”

He proposed in 2020. Later that year, the pair married

“I wouldn't have it any other way. It was such a nice and private and beautiful courthouse wedding," he says. "And I really cherish that day. She was there with me on that night. She went through that skylight at the same time I did. She's the only one that understands.”

The hashtag for their wedding? #Fellinlove

“There's not a better one,” Erin jokes about the hashtag. “I hate it, but that's where we're at. It is perfect, but yikes.”

Jason is still healing from his injury. He continues to have challenging moments and is still processing everything. 

“Grief, I still suffer grief. I'm still grieving for the loss that I've had," he says. "The loss of my lower body and the function of my lower body. It's gotten better, but some days we're really, really dark, especially as I'm learning how to manage.

“I'm always going to bump into my grief about being paralyzed in a new and unexpected way," he continues. 

Erin grieves, too, when she thinks about their first date. 

“I have a lot of guilt,” she says. “Jason and I, we both love hiking. One of our first dates was hiking, and I still find myself doing anything other than hike.”

One way Jason processes things is through his comedy.

“I think it's in my DNA to use humor to get through tough times,” he says. “And I believe it's the best medicine. I know it's the best medicine, and I'm still doing that to this day with writing a show and performing.” 

His one-man show, which he wrote, is called “The Wheel World.”

"It's my story of becoming paralyzed,” he says. “It's a story that I think people really resonate with. I've crafted the ability to toe the line, so to speak, between serious and humorous. And I think that old equation tragedy plus time equals comedy.”

Jason tackles tough topics during his show. 

“I do talk about having to catheterize myself to urinate," he says. "I do talk about how I can't get an erection. I talk about those things, and I'm real about those things so that I can joke about those things. 

“I hope I've done a good job of balancing the real brass tacks about my paralysis and my perspective on it all," Jason says.

And he and Erin are fully dedicated to getting the most out of life, as hard as it may be. The couple is expecting their first baby.

“My wife is about to give birth to our daughter in a month or so, and there is some trepidation about thinking about being a new father when you're in a wheelchair,” he says. “But we've been through so much, I've been through so much together me and Erin have been through so much.”

Jason says overall, he is grateful for what he has. And for what he's gained.

“I was asked if someone had a magic wand and could wave it over you, and you'd be cured of your paralysis. But everything that's happened, everything you've received since you've been paralyzed, you'd have to give back. 'Would you do it?'” he says. “And I couldn't do it. I wouldn't do it. This is my life now. I'm a paraplegic man.

“Now I have a wife that's pregnant, and I'm very grateful for all these things. And we have two dogs on top of all that. Could I give this away just to walk again? I don't think I could," he says. "I've worked too hard to accept and be grateful for the life I have now. And I don't see it any other way."

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