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Accident victim on the road to recovery
Brother of school board member on mend after wreck
David Sloan

Murky details have been pieced together but David Sloan's family may never know exactly what caused the car accident.

It was about 10 or 11 p.m. March 17. The vehicle went off the roadway near David Sloan's Murrayville home, flipping into a culvert.

Brian Sloan, a member of the Hall County School Board and pastor at Chestnut Mountain Church in Flowery Branch, said the six weeks since that day have brought trying defeats and small victories as his brother fought for his life and started the slow rehabilitation process.

"You're so hungry for information," said Brian Sloan, remembering the first few days after his brother was airlifted to Grady Health System in Atlanta. "Any window of good news, of positive rapport, you're just hanging on anything you can get."

Last week, David Sloan started rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, but for about a week after the accident, his brother said, the family wasn't sure if he would live through his life-threatening injuries.

He suffered massive abdominal wounds and has been through countless surgeries. His pelvis was broken in multiple places. He also sustained head trauma that doctors are still trying to fully diagnose.

"Physically, he's doing much better. I think we're still coming along with those injuries," said David's wife of some 20 years, Tia Sloan. "There are still some concerns about the mental state. ... He recognizes everybody. But then sometimes he says things, he's confused. It doesn't make much sense."

Brian Sloan said his brother spent more than a month in a sedated coma-like state under pain medication a hundred times more powerful than morphine. Now that the doctors have stepped down his medication, he is starting to clear out "the cobwebs" his brother said.

The countless hospital visits have meshed together, but it was a bit more than a week ago when Brian Sloan first was able to communicate with his brother.

"I got right in his face," he said. "I said ‘David, you're doing great. If you can understand me can you blink?' And I physically did it. He had blinked his eyes before, but at that point he scrunched them together."

But there have been other moments when frustration filled David's hospital room, like when the two brother's struggled to talk on one visit.

"I just said ‘David, I am so sorry, I can't understand you.' I got down by his bed," he said. "It was such a whisper. That was really rough, not being able to communicate. But I just said, ‘I know you're frustrated,' and he was. You could tell."

Tia Sloan said her husband is a man who brings laughter to a room, and it's been unsettling not having him around the house. The family, though, is slowly starting to see parts of his personality peek out.

Last week, a nurse was working in his room and David turned to her and said "thank you."

"You're really, very polite," Brian Sloan remembers the nurse saying to his brother.

The nurse said she was finished and turned to walk away. David Sloan gave her a quick, "Merry Christmas."

"Some people might have thought, ‘Well he's still not there,'" Brian Sloan said. "But I know David well enough to know that was a smart-aleck comment."

The doctors say David Sloan should be able to go home in the next five or six weeks. While questions about possible memory damage are still hanging in the air, the family says they're optimistic he will be able to make a full recovery and eventually return to work at Fieldale Farms.

His wife was hopeful he would be able to attend the graduation of their twin sons, Tyler and Tanner, from North Hall High School. But it appears she and their 13-year-old daughter, Darian, will have to attend without him.

"Friends and family have totally been getting us through," Tia Sloan said. "I know everybody in Hall County is praying for us. I can feel that."

Brian Sloan has been keeping the community updated on a blog now is flooded with dozens of comments and well-wishes. David Sloan's birthday was April 1 and friends posted notes that Brian plans to show to his brother when he is well enough.

The blog started somewhat selfishly, he admits, because the family became overwhelmed with the amount of people who wanted to offer their support and get updates. Now, though, it has taken on a life of its own and many in the community are thanking Brian for his diligent updates.

As a pastor for more than 30 years, Brian Sloan said he has "taught and preached and sang" of the importance of family his entire life. The last few weeks, though, have brought new clarity to the "swirling, hectic" world that encompasses his extended family.

"That all just kind of compresses into, wow, here's what it's all about," the pastor said. "And I knew that's what it's all about. We all knew that's what it's all about, life and family."