Car accident victim returns home

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 21, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Wayne Etheridge, 31, of Demopolis, was able to come home Thursday for the first time since sustaining severe injuries from an early morning car accident in August.

The accident, which occurred on Highway 43 near Chickasaw State Park, caused several broken rubs, a punctured lung, fractured skull and traumatic brain injuries. He also later underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from the right side of his brain.

Since initial doctors reports, Wayne has progressed significantly.

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Where once doctors thought there would not be recovery, Wayne is completing a rehabilitation program at a facility in Northport, Glenn Haven, and also is beginning to speak again.

Shannon Etheridge, his wife, and their children Hannah, Taylor and Parker, have all waited and watched for the day when the doctors would allow him to come home on a semi-permanent basis.

Thursday was that day for the Etheridge family, and their home was full of well wishers to welcome Wayne home. The group was also able to see the new wheelchair ramp built for Wayne by volunteers from both the Demopolis and Perimeter Civitan Clubs, which was completed just last weekend in anticipation of his trip home.

The project has been several months in the working, with both community volunteers and sponsors helping to get both materials and labor for the job. The Perimeter Civitan Club&8217;s ongoing project is to build ramps for those who might not otherwise be able to.

Shannon said when she first drove up to the driveway, Wayne&8217;s expression was one of both shock and joy to see his own home again.

Once inside, Wayne was greeted not only by loved ones, but also by a giant poster made by his daughter&8217;s class, Amelia Mackey&8217;s third grade class at U. S. Jones Elementary. With a Christmas theme and signed by each of Hannah&8217;s classmates, the sign said it all: &8220;Welcome Home Wayne.&8221;

Larry and Pam Etheridge, Wayne&8217;s parents, were also there to greet their son home. Larry described his coming home as a blessing, just in time for Christmas.

Shannon expects Wayne to be in Demopolis indefinitely, but are still waiting to hear if he will be admitted into a long-term rehabilitation program at Spain Rehabilitation in Birmingham, which has specialists for patients with brain injuries.