Teens who survived fatal wreck continue recovery

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Teens who survived fatal wreck continue recovery

By TOM BARTON
tbarton@islandpacket.com
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011   |  757 Words  |  

One of two teens hospitalized in Savannah after a crash Nov. 17 that killed a Hilton Head Island student will come home this weekend. The other is headed to Atlanta to undergo rehabilitation for spinal-cord and brain injuries.

Hilton Head town manager Steve Riley, the father of the teen coming home, made the announcement Thursday to a relieved group of colleagues during Town Council's workshop.

"Nate will come home on Saturday and has made significant progress," Riley said of his 18-year-old son who is a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School. "He's got a lot of physical therapy ahead of him."

Maggie Deery, 17, a senior at Hilton Head High, will be transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, which specializes in spinal-cord injury and brain injury, according to Riley.

"She's off the ventilator for hours at a time now and has some movement in her hands and her feet, but she also has a long road ahead of her," Riley said.

No new information about the investigation into possible alcohol use by the 17-year-old driver who died in the wreck and her passengers was available Thursday, Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said. That investigation by sheriff's deputies and the S.C. Law Enforcement Division began Nov. 22, based on evidence collected by the S.C. Highway Patrol.

Riley said his son can only put limited weight on his arms and hands. Walking is a challenge because he has multiple fractures in his right thigh. He also has fractures in his arm, and "extensive facial fractures that will likely require future surgery," Riley said.

The other injured passengers are Megan Shepherd, a Hilton Head High senior, and Jacob Schultz, a former Hilton Head Prep student who had recently returned to the island from an extended trip to Italy before the crash. Shepherd and Schultz were released from the hospital earlier. Schultz is receiving outpatient treatment for spinal, neck and hip injuries, said his mother, Lisa Bragg.

Doctors said this week he may need spine surgery, she said Thursday.

"We are so thankful for the outpouring of support and prayers from the community," Bragg said, "and we're really glad that everyone's been recovering. It's been slow, but we're all going to get there."

As the teens recover from their injuries, state and local law enforcement agencies are investigating the possibility that the car's driver, Hilton Head Preparatory School senior Kendall Walton, and her passengers were drinking alcohol. At about 9:20 p.m. Nov. 17, Walton's car ran off Indigo Run Drive and struck a tree, according to county Coroner David Ott. Walton, who had been wearing a seat belt, died at the scene, he said.

Autopsy results are part of the Highway Patrol's ongoing investigation and will not be released, the coroner's office has said.

Reporter Cassie Foss contributed to this report.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/eyeonhiltonhead.

Follow reporter Cassie Foss at twitter.com/LcBlotter.

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