By Donna Williamson
Editor’s note: David’s faither, David Eastridge, Sr., died suddenly last weekend of a massive heart attack. The Observer extends its condolences to the Eastridge family during this tragic time.
Graduating with the Class of 2015 at Beulah High School was a feat that some thought impossible for David Eastridge, who suffered severe head trauma in a car accident on June 10, 2014. However, this was a goal that Eastridge set for himself and one that he accomplished on May 21.
After his accident, Eastridge spent 29 days in the intensive care unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta in a partially induced coma. Eastridge endured a tracheotomy, along with many surgeries, including one to remove the bone flap in his right cranium. “God has been there to comfort me and hold me. I am not alone,” Eastridge said, paraphrasing his favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 41:10.
Eastridge recalls how his life changed on that day in June. “I went from playing and practicing football to fighting for my life,” he said. “I have proved the doctors wrong. I have already progressed further than they ever thought I would.”
Indeed he has. Eastridge returned to school in October; although, he still had regular doctor visits and physical therapy in Atlanta. In January he had surgery to re-attach the bone flap and he proudly says that he missed only three days of school after this surgery. He has since been released from the care of his neurosurgeon but returns to Children’s Hospital in Atlanta every six months for a check-up.
Not only did Eastridge march with his class, but he also received a Presidential Scholarship from Southern Union State Community College.
The scholarship was presented at an assembly for seniors and included the entire student body. “When I walked up to accept the scholarship, everyone gave me a standing ovation. After I walked off the stage, I burst into tears,” he said.
Eastridge’s dad, younger brother Judd, and grandmother Cora Reames, with whom he spends a great deal of time, were also present at the assembly. “I think every female in that gym cried. They knew he was on the verge of death and came back. He has been an inspiration for a lot of people,” Reames said.
Eastridge has high praise for his teachers, especially Ms. Brandy Morgan. “Ms. Brandy and I bumped heads a lot but we love one another. I could always talk to her about my problems. I give her all the credit for helping me make it through my senior year,” he said.
Although Eastridge’s recovery has been miraculous, the journey hasn’t always been easy. “Some friends have faded but the true ones have stuck with me. I have a new outlook on life which is to spend time with my loved ones. My dad and my younger brother Judd don’t have a problem with who I am now and who I used to be,” he said.
A new goal that Eastridge has set for himself is to be able to drive again. His peripheral vision was affected by the accident and he will go back to Children’s Hospital in June to take a driving simulation test. Eastridge sees this as just one more obstacle to overcome and he is confident that he will drive again.
A star athlete before the accident, Eastridge had difficulty accepting that he could no longer participate in sports. One of the ways that he has compensated for this is by taking up archery. “I am getting ready for bow season and I practice archery daily in my grandmother’s backyard,” he explained.
Another outlet is coaching and advising Judd, who enjoys baseball and football. “I give him my perspective,” Eastridge said.
Reames says that her grandson has always been active in church and that they attend Central Baptist. “David can’t wait to go to church. He is involved in youth activities and has given his testimony before the congregation,” she said. “Many prayers have been prayed by many people. David is a strong Christian and a fighter. His recovery is an absolute miracle and I give God the glory.”
Eastridge takes one day at a time, continues to set goals and is looking forward to the challenge of Southern Union in the fall. He does not ponder about why this tragedy happened to him; instead he says, “God has something different for me. The accident has made me a stronger Christian and that is more important than anything else.”