CANTON — Family members of a Woodstock teen critically injured in a February hit-and-run in Athens say despite a recent downturn in her recovery, she is scheduled to return home later this month.
Emily Bowman, 19, a former Kennesaw State University student, was walking along a roadside in Athens on Feb. 19 when she was struck by an alleged drunk driver, who fled the scene.
The man charged in the hit-and-run, William Wilson Heaton Jr., 22, of Rydal, has a hearing scheduled today in Clarke County to amend his bond, which was set at $50,000 and requires him to wear a GPS tracking device, Athens-Clarke County court officials said.
Heaton is charged with hit-and-run, driving under the influence of alcohol, serious injury by vehicle, failure to maintain lane, reckless driving and open container.
Bowman sustained severe brain injuries and was in coma following the accident.
She has since moved from one hospital to another and requires the use of a wheelchair but is now set to return to Woodstock — from a stay at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta — on May 29.
Bowman’s uncle, Neil Bowman, said Monday his niece isn’t returning home because she is not necessarily ready to. Instead, he said she is going home because her insurance coverage will not pay for her to stay in the hospital any longer.
Neil Bowman said Emily Bowman’s insurance would cover her if she went into physical rehabilitation.
“The problem is she’s not doing well enough to go into rehab,” he said. “Her parents would really, really rather her stay at the hospital with that care.”
Previously, the Bowman family had reported progress in Emily Bowman‘s recovery, but her father, Dale Bowman, said Monday that progress has slowed since a recent operation to relieve fluid from her brain.
Since this procedure, Dale said his daughter has been going through episodes called “brain-storming.”
The incidents are difficult to manage, he said.
“Her heart rate goes up to 175, you have to keep the room temperature at 60 degrees,” he said, “and you’re still wiping sweat off her face.”
These episodes have eased since a recent change in her medication, her father said, but the road ahead is still long.
“She hasn’t spoken since the accident,” he said.
Neil Bowman said Monday that though his niece’s lack of progress lately may be discouraging, she has done well to make it this far.
“When she was first admitted, the first day or so I looked at her and said ‘there’s no way she’s going to survive,’” Neil said. “But she’s pulled through ... she’s still alive.”
To help Emily Bowman with her transition home, Dale Bowman said a charity organization, Sunshine for a Ranney Day, has offered to help outfit her home to accommodate her and her wheelchair.
“There’s quite a bit needs to be done,” Dale Bowman said.
Holly Ranney, founder of the Alpharetta-based organization, said Monday that they will be installing a wheelchair ramp and putting down laminate flooring on the first floor of the house so the wheelchair can travel more easily.
They will also set up a handicap-accessible bathroom on the first floor of the house and be widening hallways, Ranney said.