On the morning of June 11, Capt. David McBrayer, of the DeKalb County Fire Department, was driving home after completing his 24-hour shift. While maneuvering down a two-lane, curvy road, with a posted speed limit of 35 mph, McBrayer’s Chevy Tahoe collided with a car that was speeding at 96 mph and being driven by a 20-year-old driver with no insurance.
McBrayer’s Tahoe was struck on the front driver’s side at an angle, which then caused the truck to roll over into a utility pole. The violent forces caused severe whiplash, which knocked McBrayer’s neck vertebrae out of place, pinching his spinal cord and damaging the C5 vertebrae.
The accident left McBrayer with paralysis from his chest down. The DeKalb County Fire Captain is currently receiving rehab at the Shepherd Center.
“David has feeling at the bottom of his spine, which is very good news,” said Allen McBrayer, David’s father. “He still can’t move his lower body, but since being at Shepherd, he can now feel us squeezing his thighs, calves, ankles, and feet.”
Allen McBrayer added that David can “lift his arms all the way up and…is able to slightly move the fingers on his left hand. We are thanking G-d for these improvements.”
David has feeling at the bottom of his spine, which is very good news…He still can’t move his lower body, but since being at Shepherd, he can now feel us squeezing his thighs, calves, ankles, and feet.
Capt. McBrayer is set to return home on Sept. 12 and will then enter the Shepherd outpatient program where he will continue physical therapy for another eight weeks.
“We live north of Cumming, so it will be about an hour-and-a-half commute twice per day to get him back and forth to Shepherd for outpatient therapy,” Allen McBrayer said, adding that the family will likely need to purchase a handicap van to transport David to physical rehab.
To help cover expenses, the McBrayer family has established a GoFundMe campaign and is currently accepting donations. The web address of the GoFundMe campaign is www.gofundme.com/f/help-capt-david-mcbrayer-on-his-path-to-recovery.
Allen McBrayer shared his gratitude to the greater Atlanta Jewish community for their continued support of David’s recovery and to the Shepherd Center’s medical team.
“We are very thankful for the Shepherd Center and the Shepherd family for creating such a great medical facility to treat those with brain and spinal injuries,” he said. “We are [also] very grateful to the Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank Foundations for their generosity to the Shepherd Center. The Arthur Blank Family Housing facility that is currently being constructed is going to be such a wonderful addition for the family members who live out of town.”
McBrayer has spent the entirety of his 14-year career with the DeKalb County Fire Department and was promoted to captain five years ago. McBrayer has also been heavily involved with the Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival.
“David has been the team captain of the War Wagon for the last four years,” said Jody Pollack, executive director of the Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival. “Men like Capt. McBrayer have been one of the reasons we invite First Responders to jour our festival and give people a chance to interact with them on a one-to-one basis to see them as people and friends. We consider Capt. McBrayer one of our friends and want to do what we can to help him as he continues through the recovery process.”
“Jody and Judy Pollack have been so kind to our family,” said Allen McBrayer. “We are so grateful for their visits with David. Jody and all the members of the Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival have been so awesome with their monetary contributions, shirts, caps, etc. We are very grateful for their kindness.”
Allen McBrayer concluded by giving a special thanks to Dr. Evan Winograd for the emergency surgery he performed on David at Northside Gwinnett Hospital to reset the vertebrae in his neck back into place.
- Sasha Heller
- Capt. David McBrayer
- DeKalb County Fire Department
- C5 vertebrae
- Shepherd Center
- Allen McBrayer
- Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank Foundations
- Arthur Blank Family Housing facility
- Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival
- War Wagon
- Jody Pollack
- Dr. Evan Winogra
- Northside Gwinnett Hospital