Two Families, Two Catastrophic Injuries Each

Former Shepherd Center patients and their families are learning to cope and move on after double tragedies.

Most of the time mothers just know, but Karen Masters didn’t know when she sent a text message to her son asking when he’d be home. Surely, it was him when the phone ran minutes later. It wasn’t.

A passerby found Ben Masters after the teen drove off a rural road near the family’s northwest Georgia home on Aug. 20, 2011. More than one life has changed since Ben, now 18, sustained an incomplete C-7 spinal cord injury (SCI) that night, and lives changed again when his brother, David Masters, 21, sustained a severe brain injury when thrown from a pickup truck on May 6, 2012.

Like their sons, Karen and Rob Masters and their 14-year-old daughter now lead different lives. They couldn’t have known in advance how this kind of accident – let alone two of them – can change so many roles. The family’s time spent at the Shepherd Center has helped them evolve.

With Benjamin, it was like having a 16-year-old infant at first because I was doing everything for him,” Karen recalls. “As the infant grows, he becomes more independent. Shepherd did a great job of preparing me for that transition.”

Transition” is a great word, and Erical Barnes also lived it twice.

Soon after she found her 16-year-old son, Vernon Lundy, thrown from an SUV and lying in brush just off a rural road near their east-central Georgia home, she had a feeling life would be changing.

The first thing he said was, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Momma,’” Erical recalls. “Then he said he couldn’t feel his legs.” Vernon had sustained a complete T-9 to 10 SCI; he was paralyzed from about the waist down. That was May 20, 2012.

By June 21, Erical knew better about how life would change.


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