Cody Chambers and his dad used to talk about everything. Now, they say it all with their eyes and a raised finger or two.
Cody’s dad is Dave Chambers, a Washington County sheriff’s deputy who was severely injured in an off-duty wreck in June. Cody was with his dad that day and also suffered injuries. Fully recovered now, the teenager remembers nothing of the crash.
Dave Chambers suffered a massive head injury and early expectations about his recovery were grim. Initially, Chambers was in a coma and unable to breathe on his own. Gradually, he woke up and was taken off a ventilator but his condition didn’t improve very much.
Friends and co-workers who visited Chambers were disheartened and fearful he might never recover.
But listening to Cody talk about a recent visit to where his dad is undergoing intensive rehabilitation therapy, it’s evident those early expectations were wrong.
“I’m elated,” said Cody, now 17 and a senior at David Crockett High School. “He’s improved a lot since he’s been down there.”
Chambers was transferred in October from the Tri-Cities to the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Fla. Friend and co-worker Jeff Miller, an investigator for the sheriff’s department, said if there was one word he could use to describe Chambers’ progress, it would be “huge.”
Cody immediately saw a difference in his father when he walked into his dad’s room.
“Before, he couldn’t focus on one thing. You couldn’t see any expression in his face. Now, both of his eyes are completely focused. He tries to talk. He makes noises, which is really good for his vocal cords,” Cody said.
He took a photo album to show his dad what’s been going on since the wreck as well as photos from before Chambers was injured. When Chambers looked at one particular picture of he and Cody, his eyes remained focused on it, Cody said.
They were also able to communicate when Cody asked yes or no questions. Chambers is able to respond “yes” with one finger and “no” with two fingers. His reaction is obviously slower than normal, but he’s able to understand a question and formulate the answer.
The moment Cody walked into his father’s room at the Veterans Hospital during a recent visit, Chambers’ eyes brightened, according to Miller. He and his wife accompanied Cody to Tampa earlier this month. Donations and money from fundraisers paid for Cody’s plane ticket while the Miller’s paid their own way.
Accommodations were also gifted for the trip through someone Miller knows. He said the son of a local couple, Pam and Roger Cochran, had a home in St. Petersburg — just outside Tampa — before his death from cystic fibrosis. They kept the house and visit the area often. According to Miller, when the Cochrans heard about the trip for Cody, they offered the house so there wouldn’t be any hotel expenses.
Cody said he is very appreciative of everything the public — including friends, family and people he’s never met — have done for him in the last six months. He’s also grateful to everyone who made his recent trip to see his dad possible.
“I really miss him. I miss talking to him,” Cody said.
Miller said he was very impressed at the progress Chambers has made since being in Florida, and he urged everyone to keep up the prayers, “because it’s working.”
Chambers, 44, started work at the sheriff’s office in 1992 after serving four years in the Army. He started as a detention officer, then was promoted to deputy in support services and later to the patrol division. In 2003, he was assigned to the DEA Task Force and in 2007, promoted to patrol sergeant. Chambers was also a member of the SWAT team prior to the crash and was heavily involved in MMA competitions when off duty.