By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Each of the victims of a July 26 two-vehicle, head-on collision on U.S. 31 are slowly recovering from their physical injuries, although the drivers of the involved vehicles both reportedly have a long way to go.
Joseph D. Barnes of Atmore, who was driving a 2005 Jeep Cherokee and was critically injured, remained in a coma and on a ventilator for several weeks and was initially given little chance of survival.
But one of the Atmore man’s relatives reported this week that Barnes has undergone several surgical procedures at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola and is expected to begin rehabilitation within the next two or three weeks.
“He has improved so much this last month,” said Karleyasmine Bright, a great-niece of the injured man. “He has had surgery on his brain and both legs, but he is healing a lot faster than expected. I Facetimed him last Friday (August 28). He can’t talk right now but he is aware of the person speaking to him. God is good.”
Bright said doctors have reported that her great-uncle will have to learn to walk and talk again but should be released “in a couple of weeks” to begin rehab.
Juanita McCaw Watson, the mother of Meri Doyle — the Century, Fla. woman who was driving the other vehicle, a 2012 Dodge pickup — said her daughter, who was most seriously injured in the crash, is slowly improving, although at least one of her injuries will likely stick with her for life.
Watson said her father and her grandchildren who were also in the vehicle and injured in the wreck, are also on the road to recovery, although the children are still suffering from the mental impact of the incident.
Meri Doyle had to have screws implanted in her foot. She will probably experience difficulty in walking for the rest of her life, according to Mrs. Watson, and won’t be able to run. Her 3-year-old son suffered a broken collar bone and a concussion, while her father, Eddie W. McCaw, and her other two children suffered lesser injuries.
“Meri’s recovery is slow,” Watson said in a message to Atmore News. “The children are doing OK, (but) Meri is still basically bed-ridden and cannot care for herself. The baby is almost well. They are all just left with (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).”