A woman seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident in Italy is now receiving care at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, where she has been surrounded by family and friends.
Julie Bryan returned to the U.S. on July 17, arriving by air ambulance at DeKalb Peachtree Airport in Atlanta.
“It is such a huge relief to have her back in the states,” Daryn Jackson, a friend of Bryan’s from their days at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., said on Sunday afternoon.
Bryan, 23, was injured in March when she stepped off a street curb into a pedestrian crossing and was struck by a speeding car. The driver kept going, leaving Bryan in the street.
A graduate of Chestatee High School in northwest Hall, she had just spent the evening in Rome celebrating with friends her acceptance to graduate school at Boston College.
Bryan suffered broken bones and bruises, but her main health issue was a traumatic brain injury. She has remained in a coma since the accident.
“She’s very clinically sound,” said her mother, Lisa Sullins, at the hospital Sunday.
Several tests have been performed on Bryan since she arrived in Gainesville. Doctors also have changed some medication and adjusted the pressure on her ventricular shunt.
“We’re just hoping the familiarity of being home, the family and friends, may in a short amount of time bring her out,” Sullins said. “... We know that she’s being cared for and that’s a huge plus to me.”
Plans are to move Bryan today to New Horizons West Nursing Home on Dawsonville Highway.
She will continue to receive speech, occupational and physical therapy there.
“She’ll have to be there until she gains consciousness,” Sullins said. “We’ve looked into the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, but until she is conscious and can participate in three hours of therapy a day, she is not rehab ready.”
The Shepherd Center specializes in spinal cord and brain injuries.
Fitness Forum on Thompson Bridge Road is sponsoring a benefit from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to help the family with costs.
The cost of the flight home was $45,000, Sullins said.
The ordeal has taken an emotional toll on the family.
“I was devastated. I couldn’t believe it,” said her grandmother, Betty Dyer of Maysville, about hearing about Bryan’s accident.
She and her husband had visited Bryan during Christmas, and Julie “constantly warned (us) about crossing the streets, saying it’s so dangerous,” Dyer said.
“She wouldn’t let me cross. She would hold onto me and say, ‘Don’t cross. Don’t trust the drivers. It’s very dangerous.’”
Her father, David Scroggs, said he is “just keeping faith” to get through the crisis.
“Julie is going to need extensive long-term therapy, even when she comes out (of the coma),” Sullins said. “... If we have half a chance to get there, you’ve got to hope. You’ve just got to hope.”
Bryan had graduated in December 2008 from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and was planning to pursue her master’s degree in mental health counseling this fall.
“She’s a very outstanding girl,” Dyer said. “She’s very smart and ... has a bright future. She’s going to get there.”