After losing his dominant arm in a terrifying accident, an Air Force vet and gamer didn’t lose his passion for video games.
Aaron Soetaert nearly lost his life back in 2009 when he was hit by a drunk driver and had his right arm severed below the shoulder.
Despite this harrowing ordeal, the now-33-year-old is thriving and has become a formidable Overwatch and Apex Legends player by using an Xbox controller with one hand.
To watch Aaron in action take a look at the below video:
Aaron, of Arizona, told Truly: “After the accident I never thought I would game again. But I just took it day by day, step by step, challenge by challenge.
“There were many times after losing my dominant arm I was scared but I took that fear and I let it push me and let it challenge me.
“So when I returned to gaming, my main mission was if I'm going to game again, I'm going to video game just like I did before. I'm not using any special controller.”
And that’s exactly what Aaron did. He now games using a regular controller and his one hand, using his pinky finger to aim, his forefinger to shoot, and his palm to move.
Aaron developed his unique technique by resting the controller on his shoulder, which made using his one hand easier.
He has since developed into a better gamer than he was when he had both his arms, and regularly dispatches opponents on Apex and Overwatch with ease.
But it’s been a long struggle for Aaron, who still recalls the horror of his accident and how difficult it was for him immediately after.
Back in 2009, Aaron, who had recently returned from an 11-month tour of Iraq, was out with friends for a birthday celebration and upon leaving noticed one of his friends was in the car with a drunk driver.
The then-22 Aaron started to chase down the car to get his friend out, but when he caught up with the car and struggled his way inside, the driver sped up.
Aaron explained: “I go to get my friend out in the back seat and he drives off. He starts driving faster and going down the wrong way
“As he floors it, I just hold on and he just happened to sideswipe a tree. I ended up getting pinched in between the tree in the car, and my arm was cut clean off.”
After the collision Aaron lay in a ditch, certain he was going to lose his life until he was found by a dog-walker and paramedics were called to the scene.
Following the incident, Aaron, had to learn to do everything again, including learning how to walk and talk.
“Slowing down was my biggest obstacle,” he said. “I still wanted to do everything as fast as I did before but I had to find other ways to do things and it wasn't as easy.”
Slowly, the determined airman regained his strength and abilities, demonstrating his ability to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds.
But gaming was still a challenge for Aaron, who had really embraced the hobby in the years before his accident.
“When I joined the military, that's really when I got into gaming,” he said. “So when I lost my arm, they all pitched in and got me a one-handed controller.
“I picked it up and I tried it and it was so frustrating. I threw it and broke it. After that day I stopped gaming for five years.”
It was when watching his girlfriend’s son play Call Of Duty that Aaron was reminded of how much he used to love gaming and he decided to try again.
He spent six months developing his one-handed technique and eventually surpassed his original abilities, becoming an impressive one-handed fps player, even becoming sponsored by some gaming companies.
But he still had to overcome obstacles as he was met with taunts and trolling when he would play online.
“Trolls and bullies online were a huge issue for me as a gamer with a disability at first,” he said. “But all the trash talk, all that nonsense, I just toned it out and I got better.”
These days Aaron plays for fun and can still be found online, taking down opponents on everything from Apex to Warzone.
“When it comes to thinking about what it was like with two arms, it's just not really where my main focus is at,” he said. “My arm’s never going to grow back.
“I’m just grateful and thankful to have the one arm I have and I’m just trying to make the best out of every day.”
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