Dalton rallies around injured teen

Dalton rallies around injured teen

April 12th, 2013 by Staff Report in Local Regional News

Hannah Locke in Dahlonega, Ga., with her brother Sawyer, a student at North Georgia College and a member of the Georgia National Guard. Sawyer was given the week off to visit her.

Hannah Locke in Dahlonega, Ga., with her brother...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

A community has turned out in full force to support a local family after an April 5 car accident left a teenager severely injured.

Churches, businesses, students and many more have held prayer rallies and fundraisers to benefit the family of Hannah Locke, 15, of Dalton, Ga.

"It has been amazing to watch," said family friend Marty Greene, speaking on behalf of the Lockes. "What we saw is a community of churches become ... the church in motion ... so many people coming together with prayer and giving and sacrificing and helping."

Locke was with friends and family when a Ford Explorer crossed the center line and hit the Hyundai Sonata she was traveling in head-on.

The impact forced the Sonata into a spin, causing it to hit another vehicle. Locke suffered a severe spine injury, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

Greene said Wednesday that Locke is doing well.

"They have her sitting up, which is very painful at the moment, but that's good. It's part of the healing process," he said.

Locke's mother, Mandy Locke, 43, principal at Dug Gap Elementary School; her grandmother, Barbara Rose, 61; and family friend Robyn Baggett, 47, also were injured and were taken to Hamilton Medical Center for treatment.

Greene said a variety of people have offered support, from community members to the local Chik-fil-A, which donated money. A Facebook page, called "Prayer's for Hannah," was created to garner support and keep people updated on Locke's progress. As of Thursday afternoon, 5,911 people had "liked" the page.

Even country singer Lauren Alaina dropped by for a visit. Afterward, Alaina rallied her followers on Twitter to pray for Locke and her family. Greene said followers all across the world have taken part.

"From what we've seen so far, it's been something like 17 countries," he said.

Locke is an active member of Mount Rachel Baptist Church in Dalton. She is a sophomore at Coahulla Creek High School and is a starter on the basketball team, as well as a member of the varsity tennis team and varsity volleyball team.

"She's a great person that we're missing right now," said Ryan Long, head basketball coach at Coahulla. "We want her to heal up and get back to us."

Locke is at Erlanger and has been accepted to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, which specializes in spinal injuries. If all goes well, she will be taken to the center to begin physical therapy.

"Hannah is hitting this head-on," Greene said. "She's a fighter, and she just knows the Lord's going to give her the strength. We're praying for a miracle."

The driver of the Ford Explorer, Tonya Renae Hardson, 43, of Rocky Face, Ga., was charged with failing to maintain lane after an investigation into the crash.