Dateline   |  August 30, 2013

On the Edge, Part 3

The Sadowski’s desperate financial situation is made worse when Tim barely survives a motorcycle accident.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> i'm nervous. but i've been depressed for about two years now.

>> by 2009 , this once well off family was sinking into poverty. tim sadowski had gone from earning $15,000 a month to less than $3,000.

>> i pulled the safety chute and said we're done spending.

>> they tried to remain optimistic for their children.

>> oh, gosh. boys. oh, hello.

>> but behind the smiles, noah and owen knew their parents were suffering.

>> was your mom happy?

>> no.

>> why?

>> because they're like never happy. you don't seem happy.

>> i know. i'm trying. how come i'm not happy, do you know?

>> no, you're just not happy?

>> what about dad, is he happy?

>> no.

>> never.

>> he's always crabby.

>> tim and krichelle felt they had so little to be happy about, not only were they in fear of losing their house, like so many other couples going through financial struggles, their marriage was also in trouble.

>> we saw a marriage counselor several times and it's been really rough. it still is.

>> so money really is the issue then?

>> huge, number one.

>> adding to the household tension, tim who had been out of work for more than a year, was around a lot, trying to make himself useful.

>> oh, don't make breakfast again. before he was never home to make breakfast, and now he makes breakfast every morning and it's driving me crazy.

>> it's ready right now.

>> we argue a lot and we blame each other. i shouldn't because it's not his fault, because he's one of the hardest working men i know. he's been such a wonderful provider for 14 years of marriage. and within the last two years, it hasn't been that way and i shouldn't blame him but i do.

>> krichelle started looking for a way out. she no longer wore her wedding ring .

>> i'll get personal with it. my wife told me in august she wanted a divorce. i was drawn back by it. i always envisioned a family that stayed together forever.

>> with their marriage on the edge and their finances in a nose dive, they didn't think things could possibly get any worse. but more than a year after "dateline's" cameras had been following them, in october 2010 , in a flash, their situation became dire.

>> that day we had been seeing our counselor at our church. i told tim that i didn't think the counseling was working and i didn't want to continue.

>> i was supposed to have a job starting that friday. and when the contractor called me and said we're postponing it a week, i couldn't stand being around this atmosphere for another week without any work. so i jumped on the motorcycle and i took off on my little trip .

>> tim said he was feeling distracted, worried about his finances and the future of his marriage, while riding on unfamiliar roads, he turned a corner and was blinded by the high beams of an on coming car.

>> i tried to bend the motorcycle to steer it over to the right. and next thing i know, i'm laying down on a street face up looking up at the sky.

>> he had slammed into the windshield of the on coming car.

>> i knew it was bad. i prayed right there for god to take me. it was probably the worst day of my life. the ligaments of my knee, the fracture of my hip socket. i fell in and out of consciousness, but what i do remember was there was a possibility of amputating my leg that night.

>> his foot had been served and his pelvis broken, if that wasn't terrifying enough, remember, he had no health insurance .

>> he needed an operation. no hospital would take him because he didn't have insurance. so he was laying in the intensive care with a broken pelvis for day. i was calling every hospital begging them, please take us. and finally riverside county did take us.

>> for once, good news, since they were completely broke, they qualified for california state health care , so most of tim 's medical bills were covered.

>> okay are you ready?

>> the doctors were able to reattach tim 's served foot, but there was no guarantee he would ever walk again. how worried about him were you?

>> i was actually really worried. i thought he would never survive. i thought he might die in the hospital which he almost did.

>> we need to pray for everybody.

>> we thank you, lord, for everything.

>> christmas 2010 , the sadowski reached a new low, no more ex extravagant presents. and tim in a hospital bed.

>> to be laid up in a hospital bed and i can't move, i try not to think about it because it's so difficult.

>> it was so humiliating, the family who had been living on the american dream were unable to buy even small presents for their children. so bad they say, they had to turn to the government to put food on their table.

>> about $668 a month on food stamps and a cash aid of $762.

>> a lot of people call that welfare.

>> yes.

>> what's it like to go to the grocery store?

>> embarrassing.

>> and lay down food stamps ?

>> it's embarrassing. i had to do what i had to do. we did not have enough money to buy food.

>> i think the face of welfare has changed.

>> in fact, hacker pointed out that 48 million americans are now receiving food stamps .

>> that's a huge increase since before the downturn and it's driven by the fact that we have seen so many people thrown out of work or seen their incomes decline.

>> while the sadowskis reeled from their cascading money problems, tim 's accident turned out to be a blessing in disguise .

>> i fell in love with my wife again.

>> for the kids, though, all the uncertainty started to take a toll, as they plied their parents with endless questions.

>> are we going to be able to keep our home? and are you two going to stay together.