Blackburn recuperating following auto accident

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A LaGrange woman who was critically injured after a tree limb fell and struck her vehicle during a thunderstorm is recovering, but it’s a day-by-day process.

Susan Blackburn, 37, who suffered head trauma and other injuries in the Aug. 27 accident, [was] responding slowly to treatment at Columbus Regional Medical Center, said her husband, Cole Blackburn.

Susan Blackburn and her three youngest children — Cason, 7 and twins Maddie and Molly, 3 — were traveling in the family’s red Chevrolet Suburban to pick up their oldest son, Colson, 11, from Gardner Newman Middle School when a limb struck the top of the driver’s side of the vehicle near her head.

Cole Blackburn, a parole officer for the state, said, “I was at work and had been responding to calls from 911 all day when I got the call that I needed to go to Ben Hill and Broad Streets, that my family had been involved in an accident.”

He recalled dialing his wife’s cell phone, but she didn’t answer. When he arrived, his wife had been put into an ambulance.

Police said Susan Blackburn had turned left from Springdale Drive onto Broad Street when the limb struck her. The truck then coasted down Broad Street and hit a fire hydrant across the street from First United Methodist Church.

“That was something in itself,” Cole Blackburn said. “Broad Street is normally a very busy street, and there was no one on the road but a police car. And the officer told me he saw it happening, and that all he could do was just pull in the middle of the road and stop. He said aid he tried to figure out how to stop the car, but then she went off the road.”

Blackburn said their children were fine.

“The girls were in the middle and Cason was in the back. I asked him what happened, and all he said was that his mom fell down and over, and that is all he knew,” Blackburn said.

The girls didn’t remember much either except that Maddie told him, “I don’t want to be in another wreck, Daddy. Don’t get in another wreck.”

His wife was rushed to West Georgia Regional Medical Center, where doctors told Blackburn that his wife “needed to get moved to Columbus right away. Normally, they would have flown her out, but with the storm, they couldn’t do that, so we had to drive her there in the ambulance.”

As soon as she arrived, Susan Blackburn was rushed into surgery.

“The doctors came out and said she is really, really sick, and they were talking about her chances of survival as being bleak,” Cole Blackburn recalled.

He paused.

“Then the next day, he was like, where he gave her a one on a scale of one to five, with one being no chance of survival, and five being the best, the first night, he said, she was fighting back and was probably a four,” he said.

Susan Blackburn was taken to ICU.

“It is just a wait-and see-thing. There is a lot of healing that needs to go on, and every day is different,” Cole Blackburn said.

His wife’s parents, Mike and Janice Cason, swap out times at the hospital with Blackburn.

“I am there every day during the day and then I come home at night to be with the kids, make sure homework gets done and try to get them in a routine, and then I go on the weekends,” Cole Blackburn said.

The children seem fine, he said, although Colson is “having the toughest time. He really wants to see his mom, to have his mom.”

Susan Blackburn teaches reading intervention to children in grades one through three at Unity Elementary School in Luthersville and is what Cole Blackburn calls, “one of the sweetest and most giving people I know.”

The two met as students at LaGrange College.

Cole Blackburn laughed. “We were there at the same time, and had a class together, and well, we just got together then,” he said.

Seeing his wife lying in a hospital bed is not easy, he said.

“We had three days where we got nothing from her. She has a trachea tube, is on a lot of antibiotics because she developed pneumonia, and her eyes are fluttering, but they seem really heavy. She has not opened them yet,” Blackburn said.

He said his wife has been responding with movements, like her feet and toes and sometimes grasping with her hands, when he “messes with her.”

Laughing again, he said, “It is kind of like, well, you know, how a husband gets on his wife’s nerves, or a boyfriend does with a girlfriend. I will shake her and tell her to wake up, or tickle her. Kind of like we did at home.”

Every little thing has been a movement toward progress, and Blackburn said, “It is just one of those things, that is going to be a day-by-day event. We don’t know what will happen.”

From the start, Colson was “having the toughest time,” Cole Blackburn said. “He really wants to see his mom, to have his mom.”

On Susan Blackburn’s 19th day in the Columbus hospital, Colson got to see his mom.

“Susan did extremely well,” her husband said. “When she heard Colson’s voice, and she felt his hand, it seemed like she really came alive. She moved her foot, squeezed his hand and even moved her head.”

Susan Blackburn still wasn’t able to open her eyes by herself. “I opened her right eye so she could see him, and her eye danced back and forth, up and down, looking at him,” Cole Blackburn said. “When I allowed her eye to shut and rest, the next thing I knew was that she had opened it slightly trying to see him again.”

Blackburn said his wife seemed to be moving her mouth as well, as if she was trying to talk to her son.

“Her heart rate was up,” he said, adding that all seemed to attribute this positive response to Colson’s visit.

During this visit, the decision was made to move Susan Blackburn to Atlanta’s Shepherd Clinic, where she could receive further and more in-depth rehab treatment.

Georgia Car Wreck Lawyer

Blackburn went with his wife to check things out, and though he felt uneasy, he realized that “our job is done, and now it is these people’s turn.”

Mike Cason, Susan Blackburn’s father, said that one a recent visit to Atlanta “the doctor had come in and worked with Susan and she was now opening both of her eyes about a fourth of the way open.”

Cole Blackburn said his father-in-law also was there when “the nurses then got Susan out of the bed and placed her in a chair. They wheeled her down to the gym and began doing arm and leg exercises with her.”

He said the family owes so much to the support and prayers of friends and family in LaGrange and elsewhere.

A fund has been established to assist with medical bills for Susan Blackburn at LaGrange Banking Company. Cole Blackburn is giving daily updates on his wife’s progress at

“It is amazing. God’s hands have been all in this. At the accident, there were power lines that kept the tree from completely falling on the truck. Had those lines not been there, Susan would have been crushed under the tree and so would have been my girls.

“There is lesson to be learned from this. I keep asking what is it? Could it be that God has something for Susan to learn? Me to learn? Someone in the community? I would love to have that answered right now, but, you know, all we can do is just pray and be here and watch the progress.”

Of the new routine, Blackburn said, “We have to trust in God, the doctors and therapists and just let Susan know how much we love her when we get to see her. For now, we will be trying to find our new routine.

“Please keep praying for us.”

[Editor’s Note: Cole Blackburn is from Newnan. This article, which originally appeared in The LaGrange Daily News, is republished with permission of The Daily News. Blackburn was being moved to Atlanta’s Shepherd Clinic. ]

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