It’s hard for Brad Sullivan to remember not being friends with Emily Bowman. She was the first girl he liked enough to write her a note.
“It said, ‘Will you go out with me, yes or no’ and she circled the ‘or’,” Sullivan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “She’s a fun girl.”
On Monday, Sullivan was one of about 20 friends who gathered around Bowman’s Athens hospital bed, praying that the 19-year-old can recover after being critically injured by a hit-and-run driver. Bowman was walking with a friend early Saturday after celebrating a friend’s birthday when she was struck by a suspected drunk driver, according to police.
Bowman, of Woodstock, underwent emergency brain surgery after the wreck and has remained on a ventilator since, her father said Monday.
“Her brain continues to swell and bleed, inside and out,” Dale Bowman said Monday afternoon.
As Emily Bowman’s family and friends kept a bedside vigil, Athens-Clarke County police worked to make an arrest in the case.
Detectives believe they know who was driving the red Mazda truck that hit the 19-year-old, but had not made an arrest late Monday, Lt. Don Eckert said. The 22-year-old suspect, whose name has not been released, has retained an attorney, Eckert said. But so far, neither the suspect nor his parents have been willing to assist police with the investigation.
“They have a right not to speak with us and they are exercising that right,” Eckert said Monday afternoon.
Bowman was walking eastbound on Oak Street between Carr and Oconee Streets around 3 a.m. Saturday morning, police said, when she was struck. She was walking in the grass, off the roadway, when she was struck from behind, authorities said.
Witnesses provided police with a description of the truck, which police located about a half-mile away in an apartment complex. The truck’s front passenger side was damaged, the back had empty beer cans, and the vehicle had been abandoned, according to police.
Investigators have obtained surveillance footage from area businesses and were hoping to speak with additional witnesses who may have seen the suspect before or after the crash, Eckley said. Friends and family members are anxious, too, for an arrest, but are thankful for the amount of time police are dedicating to the case.
From Athens Regional Medical Center, Dale Bowman said his daughter’s prognosis is not yet known and her injury has doctors concerned. Emily Bowman, a 2011 graduate of Woodstock High School who planned to return to Kennesaw State University, remains in a coma.
Some of her closest high school classmates signed a card for her and then read the sentiments aloud to her around her bed, Sullivan said.
“It was heartbreaking,” Sullivan said. “Two sentences into what I had to say and I started bawling.”
Sullivan said he and Emily have been friends since they were 10 years old, and he plans to visit her again at the hospital in the coming days.
“Emily is bright, smart, always nice, always smiling,” Sullivan said. “She’s just an awesome girl. Period.”
—Dispatch editor Fran Jeffries contributed to this report.
Enjoy expanded coverage of college football for UGa, Tech and the SEC, with our SEC Insider, covering all Southeastern Conference matchups and articles by AJC staff and regional newspapers that cover the SEC.