Police officer works toward goal of returning to force
by Elsie Hodnett
PELL CITY — Although the motorcycle accident changed his life forever, Pell City Police Sgt. Alan Shaddix continues to work toward his goal of returning to the force and resuming as normal a life as possible.

“I had gotten back into riding motorcycles after 25 years, and was traveling to north Georgia to visit and ride with a buddy of mine,” Shaddix said. “I spent the night Thursday, and Friday morning, June 8, I was driving to Cracker Barrel to get breakfast. I was on Georgia (Highway) 3 just outside Cartersville at 8:30 a.m.”

Shaddix said an elderly white male driving a 2006 Ford Ranger failed to yield the right of way and pulled out in front of him.

“I have no memory of the accident at all,” he said. “The marks at the scene showed that I threw the bike down on its left side and slid no more than 20 feet before hitting the truck in the left side.”

Shaddix said it was a busy four-lane highway, similar to U.S. 231 or U.S. 280.

“An unknown Samaritan probably saved my life,” he said. “My bike was in the left lane, the truck was in the median, and I was in the far right lane. The Good Samaritan came on the scene and positioned his truck to keep me from getting run over by oncoming traffic.”

Shaddix said he was treated at the scene by Bartow County EMS, transported to an unknown site and then airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

“According to the state troopers and what my family has told me, I was conscious at the scene, identifying myself and telling them how to find my wife,” he said. “But I don’t remember that. I remember up to 5 minutes before the accident, then the next thing I remember is being in the ICU at Grady and my wife being there and me telling her that I was sorry.”

Shaddix said he suffered numerous injuries in the accident.

“I had a broken left leg near the knee, a broken left arm, broken right wrist, broken right ankle, 12 broken ribs, two punctured lungs, a ruptured diaphragm, bruised heart sac, lacerated liver and lacerated and dislodged kidney,” he said. “The lacerated liver and kidney were the major causes of my blood loss.”

Shaddix said no one is sure how many units of blood he received, but his wife estimates 15-18 units.

“I was in surgery the day of the accident for approximately 10 hours,” he said. “Dr. Omar Danner and his team performed surgery to repair my internal damage. They were great and did everything right the first time.”

Shaddix said his second surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital took place a few days later to repair his broken bones.

“After a few days at Grady I developed pneumonia, and they had to put in chest tubes to drain fluid from my lungs,” he said. “They put me in a medically induced coma due to uncontrolled blood pressure and heart rate. I was in the coma for about three weeks.”

Shaddix said once he was stabilized, he was released to University Hospital in Birmingham to finish his recovery.

“I spent 34 days at Grady and five days at UAB,” he said.

Shaddix said when he was released, he had an external fixator on his right leg, a framework to keep the bones in place.

“I had surgery about mid-September to have that removed,” he said.

Shaddix said he is scheduled for surgery Jan. 10 to remove a rod in his right forearm and wrist.

“Six weeks following that, they are going to fuse my right wrist in place with plates and screws,” he said. “I will have no rotational movement in my right wrist, but will have full use of my fingers. It’s a permanent thing because there was too much damage to repair.”

Shaddix said the accident also basically destroyed his right ankle.

“My first orthopedic surgeon at UAB is no longer there,” he said. “I saw my new surgeon in late November and was told that surgery on my ankle would be basically useless unless I want essentially straight bones. Surgery would not decrease the pain or increase movement.”

Shaddix said he lost all movement in his right ankle.

“They are trying to let the bones heal on their own,” he said. “I can move my toes, but not my ankle and I have to wear an Exo-boot in order to stand on it.”

Shaddix said after considering the lack of mobility due to the fused ankle and other leg injuries, his intention is to have his lower leg amputated below the knee and replaced with a prosthetic leg.

“A prosthesis will get me closer to my previous physical capabilities,” he said. “Right now, it’s a disabling injury. A prosthesis would give me more functionality — I could run and learn to walk normally again. As horrifying as amputation sounds, my quality of life would be greatly improved.”

Shaddix said he is scheduled to see his surgeon early this year to discuss the amputation.

“The ankle is the big hurdle,” he said.

Shaddix said he can’t say enough good things about the doctors at Grady Memorial Hospital.

“Dr. Danner did everything right the first time and saved my life,” he said. “One of the residents on his team texts my wife every 2-3 weeks to see how I’m doing. That speaks volumes for Dr. Danner and his team.”

Shaddix said the support from his family, friends, co-workers and the community is incredible.

“It’s just been amazing — the moral, spiritual and financial support,” he said.

Shaddix said Grady Memorial Hospital is not located in one of the safest parts of Atlanta.

“Pell City Police Sgt. Don Newton and Cpl. Trey Inman rotated out on their off days to stay with my family in the waiting room in Atlanta, helping to keep them safe,” he said. “My sick time and vacation time ran out in October, and my co-workers donated their time to keep me employed. I’m so grateful for that.”

Shaddix said his goal is to return to work at the Pell City Police Department.

“That was never off the table in my book,” he said. “I started policing in 1989 and my goal is to get a minimum of 25 years in. I may go for a second career after that, but I might stay with the police department. I started out in patrol and want to stay with patrol.”

Shaddix said returning to police work is another reason he is set on getting a prosthesis.

“It would let me go back to what I love doing,” he said.

Shaddix said the accident was a major setback.

“I’m not angry or bitter, and I was never in denial,” he said. “It happened to me.”

Shaddix said his recovery is going well.

“I went from a wheelchair to a walker and now just a walking cane,” he said. “I can write right-handed, but I’ll have to train left-handed with a pistol.”

Shaddix said he even taught himself to write left-handed and can now write with either hand.

“It’s been a long, hard road, but I’ve received support from my family, friends and the community,” he said. “My church built a handicapped ramp outside our home. I cannot put into words how humbled I was by the generosity of the people in Pell City. The outpouring was just incredible. I feel blessed all the way around.”

Shaddix said he will never ride a motorcycle on public roads again — it’s just too dangerous.

“I’ve learned not to sweat the small, unimportant things anymore,” he said. “I definitely learned to prioritize things. What I can do is get back to as normal as things were before the accident — that’s my goal.”

© 2013