Alcohol has been cited by Georgia State Police as a factor in a crash in Blue Ridge, Georgia that killed a 6-year-old girl and paralyzed her 3-year-old brother. On July 1st, a 16-year-old driver in a pickup truck was speeding and smashed into a van stopped at a traffic light. The passenger of the pickup, a 17-year-old from North Carolina, was arrested and charged with Possession of Alcohol and Open Container. The driver will reportedly face charges once the police complete their investigation.
The Johnson family is from Palm Bay, Florida but was on vacation to their cabin in Georgia when the accident occurred. The 6-year-old girl, Hannah, was killed in the accident, and her 3-year-old brother, Owen, was paralyzed from the neck down. Reportedly, 10-year-old Brooke also suffered a broken wrist and abrasions, 8-year-old Kathryn had both of her legs broken and her pelvis shattered, the father David was left with a concussion, and their pregnant 32-year-old mother Susannah was left with almost a dozen broken ribs. The family members were rushed to Fannin Regional Medical Center and then airlifted to Erlanger Medical Center in Tennessee, the area’s only trauma center.
Hannah’s funeral took place this week in Palm Bay, where almost 800 people showed up wearing the girl’s favorite color, pink. Almost immediately after the funeral her parents reportedly rushed back to Chattanooga, Tennessee to the bedside of Owen, who is still in intensive care. According to reports, the Johnsons say that even though Owen cannot talk because of a tracheotomy, he has been expressive through his eyes and lips; he will likely need complete treatment for the rest of his life, and so David Johnson has been researching centers in Georgia and Florida to take care of his son and teach the family how to cope with his injuries.
Alcohol-related accidents are a serious, and preventable, problem in the United States. In 2009, alcohol-related accidents took the lives of 10,839 Americans. There were 770 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Florida in 2009, with 79 of them caused by drivers under the age of 21. If you or a family member has been injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be eligible to receive remuneration for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.