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Man who spent 19 years in a coma before regaining awareness dies at 57

Terry Wayne Wallis was known as “The Man Who Slept for 19 Years,” inspiring headlines like “Miracle in Arkansas.”
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Terry Wayne Wallis, the man who spent 19 years in a coma before he regained awareness in 2003, has died, according to an obituary. He was 57.

Wallis, of Big Flat, Arkansas, was in a car accident in 1984, which put him in a coma six weeks after the birth of his daughter, according to the obituary, published by Roller Funeral Homes.

Terry Wayne Wallis and his wife Sandra in March 1984.
Terry Wayne Wallis and his wife, Sandra, in March 1984.Getty Images file

He was minimally conscious, but doctors believed he would remain forever in a coma. Instead, he started talking in 2003, believing no time had passed. He first recognized his mother and asked for milk and Pepsi, according to news reports at the time.

He then graduated to “anything he wants to say," a caretaker told the BBC in July 2003.

He became known as “The Man Who Slept for 19 Years," inspiring headlines like “Miracle in Arkansas."

Terry Wallis, center, his wife Sandra, left, and their daughter Amber at a rehabilitation center in Mount View, Ark., in 2002.
Terry Wallis, center, his wife, Sandra, left, and their daughter, Amber, at a rehabilitation center in Mount View, Ark., in 2002.Getty Images file

Wallis' mother and entire family visited him regularly during his time in a coma, the obituary said. "Doctors believe that this stimulation contributed to his awakening period," it said.

The obituary added that Wallis "enjoyed eating anything at anytime and loved drinking Pepsi."

"He liked listening to live music, especially when his brother Perry was playing. Terry was a great teaser and loved to tease his sister. His wonderful sense of humor will be greatly missed by his family," is said.

Wallis' mother died in 2018. Survivors include his father, his daughter, siblings and grandchildren.