Dalton State coach returns after life-shattering car crash - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dalton State coach returns after life-shattering car crash

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DALTON, GA (WRCB) -  John Redman has spent most of his life on the basketball court, realizing his dream of coaching last year at the age of 23, assisting Tony Ingle at Dalton State College.

It's been quite a journey for the young coach, one that took a tragic detour on April 28, 2014.  John and his fiancee Brittany Huber, also an educator in Dalton, were on their way to their hometown, near Mobile, Alabama.   A tire blew out, sending their car out of control on I-85 in south Georgia.   Brittany died at the scene. Her funeral was held on their scheduled wedding day, in the church where they were to be married.   Six months later, John is back at work, still coping with his loss.

"I'm still living in the same house we lived in, I haven't touched any of her things. I'm just starting to realize it was not a dream, it really happened," John said. 

For several months, John was in Atlanta area hospitals and rehab centers.   He had five broken ribs, eight broken teeth, 21 fractures in his skull, and major brain trauma. He still has no recollection of the accident. "You know, at one point, my parents were told, he's probably not going to make it," John said.

Head coach Tony Ingle was the first of John's friends and family to arrive at the scene. He was at John's side for days, and knew the prognosis was grim.

Ingle said, "At the accident scene, and on the way to the hospital, John was bleeding out of both ears.  It didn't look good at all.  He was in a coma, it was 17 or 18 days that way."

That was followed by a period of heavy sedation.  Almost two months after the crash, John was finally able to speak, asking why Brittany hadn't come to visit him.   The first thing he remembers is being told Brittany had not survived.  "That was the hardest part," John said.

After recovering from that sad news, John spent the next few months undergoing intense therapy, to restore his cognitive functions, his speech and mobility. His parents had been told he would never lead a normal life.   He was determined to prove the experts wrong.

John said, "On a brain level of one to ten, they rated me a two. Now they tell me that anyone rated below a four usually will never lead a normal life." 

When it came time for physical therapy, "I did double everything they asked me to do," John said.  "If it was a ten-minute exercise, I did twenty.  I was determined not to be dependent upon someone for the rest of my life."

In a few days, basketball season begins, a time for high hopes and renewal.   For John Redman, it's a milestone many thought he'd never reach.  "This is where he needs to be," Coach Ingle said. "Who better than John to teach our young players about faith, and overcoming adversity?"  Now he hopes to inspire others who are battling the odds.

"That's why I want to tell my story now," John said.  "I want people to know, it's not always as bad as you think.  I'm living proof that even when people give up on you, you can come back, you really can."  He added, "Please thank everyone for their prayers.  The people in Dalton have been unbelievable, I'm not even from here, and they've adopted me as their own.  And I know there were thousands of people I don't even know who were praying for me every step of the way.  Tell them I wouldn't have made it without them."

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