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Morris on the mend from injuries

Public defender still hospitalized after serious scooter accident May 19

POSTED: June 2, 2009 11:29 p.m.

Family, friends and colleagues of Northeastern Circuit Public Defender Brad Morris hope he’ll be able to come back to Gainesville soon after spending two weeks in critical but stable condition at an Atlanta hospital following a devastating crash on his motorized scooter.

Morris’ wife, Renee, said Wednesday that her husband could soon undergo a final round of surgeries on his hip and left knee, following successful procedures to set his broken left arm and right leg and repair a broken pelvis.

Morris, 62, broke both legs, an arm, his pelvis and suffered a collapsed lung May 19 after
colliding with a truck that swerved into his path on Ronnie Green Parkway. He was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital after the accident.

Morris is a well-known local attorney, heading up the publicly-funded office that represents poor criminal defendants in Hall and Dawson County. He was recipient of the 2008 Judge A.R. Kenyon award for his contributions to the local judicial system.

His wife said doctors told her that most people involved in such a traumatic accident usually die or have permanent brain or spinal cord injuries. Morris’ brain and spine are fine, she said. The long-term prognosis is for a full recovery, though it will take up a year for him to regain full mobility, she said.

“We’re lucky, and there were a lot of miracles along the way,” Renee Morris said by phone from the seventh floor of Grady Memorial Hospital, where she has practically lived in the intensive care unit’s waiting area since the crash.

Doctors are not permitting visitors as a precaution against infection, and up until this week Morris remained on a ventilator. Coming off the ventilator has been a major step in Morris’ recovery, his wife said.

Renee Morris said she has received many phone calls, e-mails and cards from concerned well-wishers.

“Pretty much everyone has been praying and communicating positive thoughts, and a lot of comfort has come from that,” she said.

Morris never lapsed into unconsciousness after the crash and has been able to communicate to people in his hospital room.

“He talks a good bit,” his wife said. “I’ve just had to become a very good lip reader.”

Anne Watson, a senior member of Morris’ staff at the public defender’s office, said the outpouring of concern has been “overwhelming.”

“Brad has always felt community activity is so important, so it’s really beautiful to see the community giving back to him,” she said.

Watson said the four senior public defenders are working together to keep the office running smoothly until Morris can return.

If it were up to him, the return would be sooner rather than later. Renee Morris said her husband is growing restless and plans are already being made to create a “satellite office” for him at the Gainesville house where he once ran a private law practice.

“He wants to get back to work,” she said. “Mostly we’re trying to reassure him it’s going to take a lot of time.”

After the last round of surgeries, Morris should be able to be moved to a physical therapy facility in Gainesville, she said.

“It’s been a long two weeks, but in the grand scheme of things we’re very fortunate,” she said.



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