One year later: Emily Bowman’s recovery

By BRANDI EVANS

It has been a year since former Kennesaw State University student Emily Bowman was hit by a truck in Athens by a drunken driver, and since that time, she has made tremendous steps forward toward recovery.

Bowman was walking alongside the road in Athens, Ga., early morning Feb. 16, 2013, when a drunk driver drove off the road and hit her with the front of his truck. The damage done to Bowman’s brain and body was severe, and many were worried if she would survive the initial surgeries.

Bowman suffered a traumatic brain injury upon impact of the truck, and a surgery had to be done that included removing a piece of Bowman’s skull to make room for her swelling brain. According to FOX 5, she remained in a coma for weeks after the incident, and she spent five months moving from one hospital to another. Doctors were unsure of Bowman’s survival during those delicate processes.

Bowman was finally able to come home in July of 2013, to her newly modified home that included a new ramp to the front door and a more easily accessible bedroom, as documented by WXIA-TV. Since then, Bowman has kept a regular doctor appointment as well as rehab appointments, and her family and friends have not stopped showing support and encouragement for her.

“She [Bowman] is making improvements daily. She is receiving therapy and rehab weekly. She is surrounded by loving friends and family,” Bowman’s high school friend Stephanie Youmans said.

Now, one year since the accident, Bowman continues to prove her strength as she has made slow but sure progress since the accident occurred. Originally unable to walk or communicate, Bowman is now able to stand with the aid of her stander, and she has started to communicate thoughts and answers via hand signals, head nods and very basic writing again.

According to FOX 5 and the Bows for Bowman Facebook page, Bowman has also started completing simple addition and subtraction again. All of these improvements are those that the doctors were skeptical of seeing with Bowman, but she has stayed strong through the many surgeries and rehabilitation exercises to be at the stage she is now.

“So many people have just continued to pray and pray and support her [Emily] in every way, and she’s just been nothing but strong through this. I’m so proud of her,” said Anna Lee Strickland, Bowman’s best friend.

Bowman’s story has gotten so much coverage in the Metro Atlanta area and her following has grown greatly over the past year.

A Facebook page called Bows for Bowman was created by Bowman’s mother and a few friends to give personal updates, share positivity, financial support and encouragement. Bows for Bowman has gained more than 43,000 likes since it was created, and it has created a lot of buzz on Twitter with the hashtag #PrayforEmily. The page promotes T-shirts, bracelets and candles that can be bought at a different webpage, bowsforbowman.com. It also makes followers aware of all of the fundraisers held at local restaurants or via businesses held to help support Bowman’s family with the medical and hospital bills.

The support and following for Bowman and her family has been so large, and it is still continuing to grow.

Strickland said, “We originally created the page to just send out updates on her [Bowman] condition, but it really grew into something huge. It’s still inspiring to me how the community has just come together.”

While the Bowman family continue to fight the daily fight over Bowman’s recovery, the outcome of 22-year-old William Wilson Heaton’s trial wrapped up not too long after the accident happened. Heaton hit Bowman with his truck early morning Feb. 16, and then fled the scene. Investigators found Heaton’s truck abandoned near where the accident happened with empty alcohol containers inside.

Heaton’s mother made it clear to FOX 5 that she and her family, including her son, are all committed to the truth. Heaton turned himself in on March 6, 2013, after a warrant was issued almost a month after the hit-and-run accident. Heaton’s mother also said her heart was focused on the Bowmans, as she made sure her son took responsibility for his actions.

Having made so much progress in the last year, Bowman’s family, friends and supporters all hope to continue to see this improvement from her in the future.

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