It was supposed to be the experience of a lifetime for a North Carolina man living with Lou Gehrig’s disease, but what started with a trip to the Super Bowl ended in a freak car fire.
Ed Cushman, 39, had recently received tickets from ALS Charity Team Gleason to the big game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams this past Sunday.
The first person he called was his brother, Rob.
“(Cushman said) ‘I got promised two tickets and I want you to go with me!’ and that was awesome,” Rob told NBC affiliate WCNC. “I was excited about it ever since.”
Cushman was first diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, in the summer of 2017. The condition is a motor neuron disease that gradually paralyzes people because the brain isn’t able to communicate with the muscles of the body, according to ALS Canada. Someone living with the disease will lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, swallow and, eventually, breathe.
Rob said despite the diagnosis, Cushman kept pushing to do more with his life.
“He wanted to be strong and he wanted to do things to enjoy his last few years,” he said.
One of those things was the Super Bowl so that’s where the two men were headed on Saturday.
As they were driving on Interstate 85, Rob said he began to hear the van rattling “really bad,” and smoke began to billow out from the bottom of the car.
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A Georgia State Patrol release says Rob got out to inspect the vehicle, which is when it erupted into flames.
Rob attempted to save his brother — he was using both his wheelchair and a ventilator — but was unable to get him out.
The 39-year-old ultimately died in the fire.
Cushman’s brother was left with burns to his hand and leg as well as the loss of his sibling.
“He’s in a better place and he’s got his strength back and he’s OK now,” Rob said. “He doesn’t have to suffer.”
In a Facebook post, Rob called it a “freak accident.”