Near-death attack ushers addict’s salvation in Orlando
By: Major Frank Duracher
Scott Casciola had $30 in his pocket. He also had a smattering of drugs he was trying to peddle on the streets of east Orlando. And for those paltry things, Scott was nearly beaten to death.
“Addictions had ruined my life,” Scott says. “But that night, Christ reclaimed it!”
Scott thanks God for a mother who told the young boy about Jesus. But by age 15, he was addicted to alcohol. Much harder addictions to drugs soon followed.
“As an adult I worked on oil rigs and later learned the roofing trade,” said Scott. :I was cashing thousand-dollar checks every week — but I never was able to keep money.”
Whatever it took to secure drugs — both for his use and to resell — became Scott’s life. Theft, a string of DUIs, and arrests for dealing drugs resulted in several prison sentences.
“But none of that stopped me,” he said. “It didn’t even slow me down.”
That is, until the wee hours one cold February 2020 night when Scott came within a hairsbreadth of eternity.
“I was dealing on a street corner in east Orlando when a man came up behind me and demanded I empty my pockets to him,” Scott recalls. “I refused, and that’s when he produced a huge steel object and began beating me unmercifully. He didn’t care if I died.”
Blow after blow to Scott’s head produced gushers of blood, soaking his hoodie, and diminishing his vision.
“I tried to get away from him, but he kept coming; kept beating me,” Scott said. “It wasn’t a verbal cry, but my soul screamed out to the Lord to save me.”
Scott does not know if the weapon was a lead pipe, or a piece of rhubarb — but it was blunt rather than sharp, which would have made each resulting wound far deeper.
“I was fast becoming dizzy and weak,” he said. “I could not get away from him. He kept coming and he was about to deliver what I sensed would be the killing blow!”
That is the moment when an approaching siren finally scared the man away.
“Obviously, a passerby saw the attack and called 911 — but the funny thing is that it wasn’t the police, but an ambulance coming for me.”
Paramedics quickly took Scott to the nearest hospital where the medical staff fought to save his life. Twenty-two staples in his head later, his bleeding finally stopped.
As the doctor and nurses were tending to Scott, they asked him what his “after-care plans” were. He simply answered that he would go back out on the streets.
“They laughed, and said that wasn’t a good idea,” Scott says, himself smiling now. “My nurse suggested I contact The Salvation Army. She said to me, ‘When I come back to bandage your head, I’ll have their phone number for you!’”
Understandably, when it was time to be discharged, Scott was afraid to leave the security of the hospital. “I had become paranoid. It was still dark out — 3 a.m. local time — and I was sure that guy was still out there looking for me!”
He asked if it were possible to wait in the lobby for daybreak, which they allowed. That morning, Scott took a city bus to the Orlando Citadel Corps. He used the phone (“Mine was badly damaged in the attack.”) to call the The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC).
The intake counselor took his information but because his wounds needed to heal, Scott would have to wait until the staples were removed before he could join the program.
“Luckily, because of the height of COVID, the Orlando Corps had a big white tent, with cots, shower facilities, and regular meals for the homeless,” said Scott. “That is where I stayed for 10 days, until the staples came out. That day became my first day at the ARC!”
He says even before he arrived at the ARC, he determined to thereafter live for Christ. Although still paranoid around others, Scott slowly felt safe and learned how to respond to others, He also grew in his walk with the Lord, a practice he now plans a lifetime to continue.
“I have come out of my bondage to a place of comfort and peace!”
Now that classes on soldiership have resumed at the corps, Scott is planning to become a Salvationist. He’s discovered a latent writing talent and has produced several tracts. With his sister’s help, he created a website and an email address (email@example.com) which he hopes will help others like himself. The website will offer prayer requests, testimonies, Bible studies, and scripture resources.
He even plans a 40-day devotional book for recovering addicts, “because the first 40 days are the hardest in the prolonged process.”
Referring to that near-deadly night, Scott says he will always remember something told to him by his sister: “I hate that it (took) something like this, but we’ve been praying for you for years!”
“Yes,” Scott now thanks God. “This is what it took.”