Officers have charged the driver responsible for hitting and seriously hurting a North Georgia fire chief. Bryan Hailstone faces several charges including driving under the influence. Troopers said Hailstone crossed the center line and hit Walker State Prison Fire Chief Matthew Mann head-on.

Mann nearly lost his life that day in January but is showing great signs of improvement.

It has been a long two months, but Matthew Mann is finally headed home. The chief will be working hard to rebuild his strength, while the other driver faces a number of charges.

After weeks of surgery, therapy, and prayers, the Fire Chief is leaving this tragedy behind him, and moving forward. “It's been a long journey. I still got a long journey ahead of me.”  

His first stop: The Walker State Prison Fire Department, to thank the men who saved his life. “They are my guys. I've trained them. I've had them for a while. It is going to be nice to see them.”

In January Mann was involved in a serious accident while driving a Walker State Prison van.

Police said Mann's firefighters rescued him after Bryan Hailstone crossed three lanes of traffic and hit him straight on. “Possibly under the influence, speed had to do with it. He is also charged with wrong side of the roadway,” said Georgia State Patrol Trooper Charles Thomas.

It will be a few more months before he returns to the fire station for good. He is still working to regain strength and get back on his feet. “I know they are ready to move now, but the doctors tell me, no you got to wait,” said Mann.

But this hometown hero is up for the challenge. He wants to share his story to encourage others facing similar battles. “It is a journey. I feel God put me through this for a reason for a testimony to give. I hope to share that testimony once I am out of here.”

Bryan Hailstone is expected in court for his charges. Blood work is still pending but troopers with the Georgia State Patrol suspect drugs may have been a factor.