Chapel Hill teen involved in fatal crash

Friday, July 6, 2007

By Robin Kervin

Staff Writer

Justin Griggs of Chapel Hill has a guardian angel, according to his family.

On Saturday, June 30, at about 5:30 p.m. Justin and two friends, Jason Watson and Aaron Fish of Fayetteville, were riding in a 1999 Isuzu Rodeo driven by Fish's mother, Tina Marie Jo Ross. The vehicle was involved in a crash on I-24 near Smyrna that sent the Isuzu off the roadway, flipping several times. All of the passengers were ejected from the vehicle, none were wearing seat belts, according to the Tennessee State troopers report.

According to Safety Department spokesman Mike Browning, Ross died at Stonecrest Medical Center in Smyrna and Fish died at the scene. Watson was admitted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in stable condition.

Justin was also admitted to Vanderbilt in critical condition. His injuries were wide ranging from damage to internal organs, several compound fractures to both legs, a broken pelvis, spinal fractures and facial trauma.

"Justin had to be stabilized before some surgeries could even be considered and we still find new problems every day as tests continue and he becomes more aware," said his mother, Darlene Bailey. "Justin has had problems with internal bleeding, it has gotten under control, but now he has to have blood thinners to make sure he doesn't get blood clots in his legs. That could cause the internal bleeding to start again. He is still in serious condition, but he is more stable. We still have a long way to go."

Justin's mother and grandmother both believe that if an off duty nurse had not been at the scene of the crash and did all she could for Justin, he very well might not have made it to Vanderbilt.

"She truly was his guardian angel," said Thelma Griggs, his grandmother.

Justin told Nancy Hayden his name and that he was from Chapel Hill, that made an immediate connection with Hayden, who lives in Antioch but has family in Chapel Hill.

According to Bailey, Hayden has been a nurse for 30 years and said she felt compelled to stop when she saw the wrecked vehicle on I-24. She held Justin and talked to him, feeling that it was a miracle he was alive and it would be another if he survived his injuries, said his mother.

Hayden went to the hospital on Thursday morning to visit Justin and brought him balloons, said Bailey.

State troopers are still investigating the crash and hope to have more information available next week. Road rage is being investigated as the possible cause of the accident, said Browning. Troopers are investigating reports that food and beverages and other objects were thrown between Ross' Isuzu and another vehicle just before the wreck.