Devon Phelps said his two young boys don’t yet understand that they can’t climb on dad like they used to.
About two weeks ago, an allegedly distracted driver plowed into the Phelps and his wife as they jogged along Willeo Road overlooking the Chattahoochee River. The crash left Phelps with a dislocated knee and his wife with a fractured skull.
“I remember feeling an impact, which really didn’t hurt,” 26-year-old Devon Phelps told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.
When he next opened his eyes, all he could see was purple for a few seconds before registering the two people with a multi-tool cutting away the thorny bush where he’d landed. He remembers screaming for his wife because he couldn’t see her.
“There was lots of blood, my leg was not in the correct position or anything,” he said.
Phelps said he soon realized his life would be different. When their 4-year-old son got to see his mother for the first time, “he didn’t really recognize my wife or anything.”
Jill Phelps, 25, is recovering from a fractured skull along with possibly permanent facial nerve damage. Doctors used two dozen stitches to close a hole in her cheek.
Devon Phelps, who won’t be able to bend his knee for two months, doesn’t like to dwell on the driver — Khianii Jackson. The Stone Mountain man faces a dozen counts, including distracted driving. Police haven’t said how fast he was going, but it was fast enough to crack a wooden power pole. He also faces a child safety seat violation; police said. Jackson’s two-year-old daughter, who was hospitalized after the crash, was strapped in a safety seat, but investigators are looking into whether she was properly restrained.
Phelps said he doesn’t know if the driver has insurance. That’s part of the reason why the family has turned to GoFundMe, where they have already raised $10,000, to help pay for their recovery. Even if limping, Jill hopes to get back to work as a teacher for the upcoming school year, and Devon has had to continue his studies at Georgia State University — “It’s hard doing school work while taking narcotics.”
The couple went to high school together in Chicago but didn’t get together until he was in the Marine Corps, where he was a specialized airplane mechanic for about eight years. After he left the service in December, all four moved to Roswell not only because her mother lives there but because of his hopes of going to Georgia Tech for material science engineering.
He said the injuries put their lives on pause, including plans to start jogging more.
Phelps said they were jogging on the gravel beside Willeo, across from the Chattahoochee Nature Center, to avoid a patch of ground that was flooded. The city spent tens of millions of dollars to create the multi-use greenway named Riverwalk, and the attraction regularly draws people, some of whom illegally park and block lanes, from all over metro Atlanta to bike and jog.
Phelps said he thinks the city might want to consider signs or a guardrail to improve safety.
“There’s tons of runners,” he said.
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