- Associated Press - Monday, May 29, 2017

HAMPSTEAD, N.C. (AP) - For Collin McClearn, life changed in a second. He can still vividly remember the details of a Feb. 20 crash in Columbus County that left him in a wheelchair at age 23 and two women dead.

At his home in Hampstead, in addition to a new black metal ramp winding up to the front door of his house, there are still signs of the pastimes he enjoyed just three months ago before the crash.

A skateboard leans against the front porch. A boat sits parked in the driveway.

But all that changed when a vehicle reportedly ran a stop sign, slamming into the side of McClearn’s truck.

“I was on the way to pick up a backhoe in South Carolina,” he said. “I was just going down some country road and all the sudden I look to my left and I see a BMW coming that is not stopping and I just braced myself. Next thing I know, I was upside down, stuck and I couldn’t feel my legs.”

For 45 minutes, McClearn said, he was trapped upside down in the truck as emergency crews worked to free him. All the while, he said, his legs were pinned between the steering wheel and his seat.

McClearn was airlifted to Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

According to N.C. State Highway Patrol, the two women in the car that hit McClearn’s truck died at the scene.


For nearly a week, McClearn was in the hospital following a surgery in which portions of his fragmented T12 vertebrae were removed from his spinal cord. His back was repaired with pins and a rod from his T10 to L2 vertebrae.

He also suffered two broken ribs.

He was then transferred for six weeks to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a private hospital that specializes in rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries.

Now, McClearn is receiving physical therapy at New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Oleander Rehabilitation facility in Wilmington.

Currently considered complete paraplegia, he said he has no sensation or movement below his waist, but added that doctors want more time before making a definitive determination.

“They just like to give themselves 18 months because of swelling and things like that,” he said. “Basically they have said it’s a little too early to tell.”

A new family

In October, McClearn and his fiancée Briana Moyer, 24, welcomed a baby girl, Abigail.

Recently in the family’s home, the toddler jumped and smiled up at her father as she played in a bouncy chair.

With ease and confidence, he lifted her out of the seat and into the lap of his wheelchair.

“He is a father more than anything,” Moyer said. “He loves that little girl. There are a lot of things he can’t do now, like our crib - he can’t reach in and get her, so we want a crib that opens up, but of course they are like thousands of dollars.”

Moyer said insurance has covered a lot, including the ramp in front of the couple’s home, but there will be many bumps to prepare for in the future.

The couple’s beach wedding, which they had been planning for the summer of 2018, is on hold indefinitely, she said.

And there are still many details to figure out, she said, like helping McClearn learn to drive again with the assistance of hand controls and finding new work for him to do, as he has always held blue-collar jobs.

She created a GoFundMe page following the crash to assist with medical costs, and now the couple has planned a fundraising event July 15 at Capt’n Bills Backyard Grill & Volleyball Facility in Wilmington.


Information from: The StarNews, https://starnewsonline.com

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