Injured Wash. Co. deputy returns home

Becky Campbell • Feb 11, 2014 at 9:02 PM

Jonesborough resident Brenda Chambers did something a few Sundays ago with her son that she’s sure he never thought would happen — they watched the Super Bowl together.

“I was watching the Super Bowl with him, and I looked over and said, ‘David, I bet you never thought you’d be watching the Super Bowl with your Mama, did you,’ ” she said.

“His shoulders were just shaking and he smiled for the longest time.”

Chambers’ son, David Chambers, a Washington County sheriff’s deputy, couldn’t respond verbally because he suffered a massive head injury last summer in a vehicle crash.

The wreck happened June 5 and also left Chambers with a broken neck. His neck has since healed and so has his brain injury but he is still unable to speak, walk on his own or feed himself.

David was off duty when the crash happened on U.S. Highway 11E near Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home when he pulled into the path of another vehicle. During the initial stages of his recovery he was at Johnson City Medical Center, then was taken to a facility in Bristol before landing a bed at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Tampa, Fla.

After a little more than three months of intensive rehabilitation and therapy there, David came home last week. When his flight arrived at Tri-Cities Regional Airport, Blountville, he was transported by Washington County/Johnson City EMS and had a full police escort from the airport to Lakebridge Health Care Center in Johnson City.

Brenda said that’s where her son will live as he continues to recover from the injury.

“He’s doing a lot better. He’s made great strides,” she said. “He hasn’t been able to talk yet but he says everything with his eyes. He’s recognized people and he responds to laughter.”

Earlier this year, Chambers’ son, Cody — who was also in the wreck but suffered minor injuries compared to his father — said his dad uses one or two fingers to answer yes and no questions.

Dave is also able to track people’s movements with his eyes and make sounds, but not words.

“When we went to Bristol he still had a C-collar on ... because he had two fractures in his neck,” she said.

The C-collar came off two months after the wreck, but Dave still had a tracheotomy to allow him to breathe. Once he arrived in Florida, that was removed.

“He’s eating some and he’s up in his chair for about five or six hours a day,” Brenda said.

Dave is receiving occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy to keep his progress going. Some of the physical therapy includes him being strapped to a table that lifts up and provides walking therapy as well as using a bicycle to move his legs to improve his muscle tone.

He’s also improved how he holds himself in terms of being drawn up, his mom said.

“His arms he used to hold real tight and now it’s loosened and his fingers are straightened out now,” Brenda said.

When she learned David would be transported back home, Brenda said she wasn’t sure why but she’s staying positive about what’s to come.

“The Lord got us down to Tampa to do what needed to be done ... I said, ‘Lord, why.’ God’s been good to us and he’s been with us every step of the way. I figure it’s to be with family and friends where it will bring him more awake,” she said.

And she’s hoping Dave’s friends visit to help keep his mind healing.

“Anybody,” she said when asked who could visit her son. “He’s got a lot of friends. I encourage everyone to come see him,” she said.

“There’s been so many that’s been praying for him and that’s the best medicine he could have.”

And she knows it’s going to be a long road for her son.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” she said. “It’s a roller coaster.”

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