EAST ATLANTA — The friends of an uninsured man who suffered a spinal cord injury in a Flat Shoals Avenue scooter accident are raising funds to cover his medical bills.
Justin Graham, 32, is at Grady Memorial Hospital, following the March 16 incident in the 700 block of Flat Shoals Ave.
Graham, a manager of the Vortex in Little Five Points, faces at least four weeks of rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center when he is released.
Graham's friends are collecting donations through an Indiegogo.com fundraising page to help defray the Pascagoula, Miss. native's medical bills.
"We've been best friends since we were kids," Graham's friend, Heath Ladnier, told East Atlanta Patch. "He doesn’t have insurance; he was having enough trouble because his divorce was finalized the day this happened."
According to a police report of the incident, Graham was riding his scooter home from work, driving southbound on Flat Shoals Avenue, approaching the Ormewood Avenue intersection at about 5:45 p.m.
According to a witness cited in the police report, Graham:
"struck a steel plate that is in the roadway. He stated that once the male hit the steel plate he loss control of his motor scooter. He stated that the male eventually fell and laid his scooter over and slid across the pavement approximately 20 feet."
The plate covering the hole in the street — which had been there for weeks — has since been removed and the hole itself filled.
Graham suffered 10 broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung, a broken arm, two broken vertebrae and a damaged spinal cord, that as left him paralyzed from the waist down.
While he didn't have insurance for himself, he did have insurance for his ex-wife and nearly two-year-old daughter, Amelia.
"He’s just an incredibly warm, funny, kind-hearted person," another friend, Paul Alexander Cantrell, told Patch.
"He's the sole provider for them," Cantrell said of Graham's child and ex-wife. "His expenses are going to be through the roof."
The Indiegogo page already has raised more than $25,000 since its inception, but Graham's friends note that his will be a long road to recovery.
"The outpouring — we surpassed our $10,000 goal in 12 hours — we were blown away by how much people have contributed," Ladnier said, adding other fundraisers are being planned, including a dine-out event at Six Feet Under, where he is a bartender.
There is hope that Graham may walk again but how fully he'll regain full use of his legs is uncertain, Ladnier said.
"The doctors have said they've seen worse," he said, but each case is different.
If you'd like to contribute: please visit the Indiegogo page Graham's friends have established at: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-justin/x/2804398.
Contributors also may give toward his medical bills via an Etsy site selling scooter safety stickers. A portion of proceeds generated from those sales will be given to Graham's medical bills.: http://www.etsy.com/listing/124549636/look-twice-save-a-life-scooter-vinyl.