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Cookout gathers community to support injured firefighters
3 Hall firefighters on mend after ladder truck accident in July
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Hall County firefighter T.J. Ellitott, center, talks with colleagues Saturday at a fundraiser in the Lowe's parking lot on Shallowford Road. Elliott was injured June 22 with two other firefighters when a truck's aerial ladder malfuntioned. Will Griffin was released from Shepherd Spinal Center Friday. Stephen Jackson was also at the Saturday fundraiser. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Smoke rose Saturday from the Lowe’s parking lot, but the Hall County fire department was already on the scene.

Firefighters held a benefit cookout for three injured Hall County firefighters hurt last month in a training exercise.

TJ Elliott, Will Griffin and Stephen Jackson were taken to the hospital July 22 after falling 44 feet in a ladder truck’s bucket.

Wearing a back brace, Elliott walked around the benefit, shaking the hands of their fellow first responders and residents alike.

“Everybody’s been absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “The community’s been awesome. They’ve all banded together to help us out.”

After significant trauma and back injuries, Elliott and his fellow firefighters from Fire Station No. 16 are taking things slow. He said Jackson and Griffin are recuperating well, but more time is needed before any decisions about returning to work.

“It’s hard to tell, just this early, and it’s all going to depend on how it progresses,” Elliott said.

As of Wednesday, almost $24,000 was in a Hall County Community Credit Union fund for the injured firefighters. The cookout was sponsored by North Georgia Medical Transport, which set a goal of $5,000 for the fund.

“It makes me swell with pride about how much we could help, especially our TJ Elliott, but also the two other guys,” said Spencer Walker, regional manager for North Georgia Medical Transport.

Walker said Saturday evening that the cookout reached its $5,000 goal.