By Donna Williamson
In a split-second, 17-year-old David Eastridge’s life changed forever.
David, who was seriously injured in a car accident in June, spent 29 days in the intensive care unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in a partially induced coma.
David suffered severe head trauma from the accident. Now four months later, after a tracheotomy and many surgeries, including one to remove the bone flap in his right cranium, plus intense physical therapy, David is on the road to recovery.
Since returning home, David spends time with his mother, April, in Cusseta and with his grandmother, Cora Reames, and his father, David Sr., in Beulah.
“Little David and I have a special relationship,” Reames said. “I’ve been all over Alabama following David and (grandson) Blake Booth playing ball. I have never missed one of Little David’s games.”
“Little David has always said that he’s not spoiled, just well-loved,” she added with a smile.
Reames fondly calls her grandson “Little” David and her son “Big” David.
David’s recovery has been enhanced by his strong will and unwavering determination. His mom built a wheelchair ramp for him to have when he first came home. David told her, “You are wasting your money. I am going to walk out of the hospital.” And he did. He left the hospital with a walker, which he used for only one week.
David has begun doing some of the things he enjoyed before the accident – one of which is playing Scrabble. “David and I used to play Scrabble all the time until he got his driver’s license and a girlfriend,” Reames said. “Now Judd (David’s younger brother) and I play Scrabble with Little David whenever he is here. The game is good therapy because it stimulates the brain.”
According to Reames, David does whatever he can to regain strength in his left arm and leg, which were weakened by the accident. “Little David and Big David throw the baseball with Judd in the backyard,” she explained. “David also goes to his aunt’s house to swim, which is good therapy for him.”
Fishing is one of David’s favorite activities. He has been fishing with his dad and Judd several times since his return home, and the family plans to have a fish fry with their catch.
On Labor Day weekend David, who is a big Auburn fan, went fishing with his Aunt Cherrie, who is a big Alabama fan. They decided to bet on who would catch the most fish. If David won, Cherrie would have to wear an Auburn shirt on Auburn/Alabama game day and if Cherrie won David would have to wear an Alabama shirt.
David won that bet, and he is looking forward to seeing his Aunt Cherrie in an Auburn shirt. “She’s the loser all day long,” David said, laughing.
David was happy to be able to attend Beulah High School’s first home football game. He attended as a spectator. Before the accident, David was slated to be the starting quarterback in this, his senior year.
He will return to Beulah High School on Oct. 13, after fall break.
“Before the accident, David had a 4.0 grade pont average. He doesn’t know if he can make up the work he has missed and how his absences will affect him,” Reames said. “He does hope to march with his class in May.”
Not only is David determined to graduate with his class, he is also determined to play baseball in the spring. He said, “My mom and I have already talked about it, and she said ‘yes.’” However, before this can happen, David must have surgery to replace the bone flap. Until the surgery, he will continue to wear his protective soft helmet, which has the Beulah Bobcats logo on it, compliments of his teammates.
David’s teammates, coaches, teachers, and friends have been there for him.
“Coach Jarrod Wooten (football) and Coach David Dismukes (baseball) almost beat us to Atlanta to the hospital. They stayed with us all day and night,” Reames said. “Team members and Suzanne Fender (cheer coach) have all been so supportive … David has no memory of the first month and no idea how many people visited him.”
Senior night will be a very special occasion for David. He will flip the coin right before the game, and he will walk out as a senior with the team. “David may not play, but he is still part of the team,” Wooten said.
Reames said David’s friends visit him every weekend when he is home, and he is back in church at Central Baptist. “Little David is going to give his testimony one day. He knows that God has had his hands on him,” she said.
David agreed with his grandmother.
“God has truly blessed me with another chance at life. He has been with me through day one, and He will be with me until the last day.”