‘It’s a miracle he’s still here’

Contributed photo Jonathan Griggs of Hamlet is still in the hospital after a May 30 crash in Marlboro County, South Carolina. Family and friends are planning a softball tournament June 27 in Ellerbe to raise money for medical expenses.

HAMLET — Shortly after 5 a.m. May 30 about six miles south of the North Carolina state line, 30-year-old Hamlet native Jonathan Griggs was found unconscious at the wheel of his wrecked car.

“They said the car was cold when they found him,” said Peggy Davis, Griggs’ mother. “It could have happened several hours before they found him.”

Davis said Griggs was returning home from visiting a friend in South Carolina when the crash occurred. She does not know who found her son in the early light of the following morning along S.C. Highway 381 or who reported the crash.

State troopers and paramedics were called to the scene and Griggs was rushed to McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence.

“All I know is the hospital called me that morning and told me, ‘You need to get down here,’” Davis said. “He was in surgery when I got there. It seems like it was a long time. A long time before they brought him up. He was on a ventilator and couldn’t talk or anything. His left leg was crushed and had to be amputated. It was a real bad car accident. Real bad.”

She said a S.C. Highway Patrol trooper later contacted her to let her know that if she had any questions, she could call him.

“I have his name, but it’s in my phone,” she said. “I don’t remember who he was. I haven’t had to call him for anything.”

Davis said her son remained in the McLeod trauma intensive care unit from May 30 to June 17 before he was finally transferred to a regular ICU room after he came off the ventilator. He remains in ICU with serious injuries including a broken hip joint, broken pelvis, bruised lungs and a broken nose and collarbone.

“Now, he’s in orthopedic where he’ll stay for about another week before he starts physical therapy,” she said. “He’s going to have to learn to do everything again.”

Adrian Leviner, also born and raised in Hamlet, said she and Jonathan went to school together, and that she was best friends with two of his cousins.

“When I heard they amputated his leg, that really got to me,” Leviner said. “That, and him being my age and everything else that happened to him. It really hit home.”

Knowing how expensive the hospital stay and surgeries could potentially be, Leviner decided to organize a benefit for the family.

The Co-ed Benefit Softball Tournament for Jonathan Griggs begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 27 at Parsons Field in Ellerbe.

“The cost is $200 per team, which would be about $15 per person,” Leviner said. “There will be concessions sold, but we’re seeking donations for things like hot dogs, buns individually wrapped bags of chips and cases of Gatorade and water — just anything people would like. Donations can be dropped off at the Richmond County Daily Journal (at 105 E. Washington St.) and left there with Calla. Or people can call me at 910-417-8942 about donations or anything else.”

Leviner said several local people and businesses have donated gift cards that will be raffled off and given out between games, and the Daily Journal is donating a free one-year subscription to the paper as a prize.

“All proceeds go directly to the family,” Leviner said. “So far we have four teams for sure, and if there are enough individuals who want to play but they don’t have a team, we can make teams for them as well. Six teams would be great, because then we could have double-elimination.”

Davis said she appreciates Leviner for what she is doing, and also for the community’s prayers.

“He’s in a lot of pain,” Davis said. “They say he tries to be OK when I’m around ‘cause he doesn’t want me to know how much pain he’s in. That’s what his brother said. But I’d rather know and say ‘tell them when you’re in pain, so they can make it better.’”

Griggs also has a message for his friends and family back home.

“He’s told everybody, ‘Thank you for your prayers and just keep on praying for me,’” Davis said. “He knows people are praying and that it’s a miracle he’s still here. When people ask what they can do for me, I just say pray. More prayers.”

A GoFundMe campaign is accepting personal donations to the family. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/w6twfs on the Web.

Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.