Grovetown resident Diane Ryals believes in miracles. She says she lives with one.
Hunter Branscum broke his right wrist, right femur and collarbone in a fall from a third-floor balcony. He also injured his lung and spleen and suffered internal bleeding from the July 16 fall in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Hunter has been healing quickly. His cast already has been removed and he can use his arm to play with a joystick.
"He is such a miracle,'' Ryals said of her 8-year-old son, Hunter Branscum. "We could see God's miracle working in him.''
On July 16, Ryals was standing on a third-floor hotel balcony in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with her son at her side when the accident happened.
Ryals was chaperoning a group of teenagers from New Life Christian Center in Augusta and had walked outside after breakfast to talk with some other youth leaders, including Chad Woodhams.
As she leaned on the balcony, she said, Woodhams quickly ran back into the hotel room and downstairs. Ryals said she remembers hearing someone scream. She looked down to the ground and saw her son lying there.
The balcony's railing had broken, and Hunter had fallen to the ground with a piece of the railing still clenched in his hands.
Hunter had no pulse, his eyes were fixed and there was blood on his face.
"Immediately, I started praying,'' Ryals said. "I got a peace all over me, and I stopped crying.''
She went to her son and attempted to comfort him as he lay there. Ryals said others began to pray, including members of the New Life Christian Center youth group and members of other youth groups.
Hunter was taken to a hospital in Myrtle Beach, where he underwent tests. His right femur, right wrist and collarbone were broken; there was a hole in his lungs; and his spleen had ruptured. He had internal bleeding and stayed in traction for the next few days.
Hospital officials wanted to airlift Hunter to a children's hospital, but his condition wasn't stable enough to do so. Doctors then feared he might get pneumonia. They also talked about placing him in a body cast.
"We prayed, prayed and prayed,'' Ryals said. "It was touch and go the first couple of days.''
Within a few days, Hunter was transferred by ambulance to the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center. He didn't get pneumonia and didn't need a body cast.
Two weeks after the accident, Hunter had surgery to have a pin and two rods placed in his leg.
"They said he wouldn't walk for three months,'' Ryals said.
A surprise that hospital employees had promised to Hunter in another room proved to be enough to get him walking, though. Only an hour after his surgery, Ryals said, Hunter walked, with the aid of a walker.
A month after breaking his wrist, Hunter's cast was removed, and he was using a video game joystick as though nothing had happened.
His organs continue to heal, and he has regular trips to the doctor to monitor his progress, but Ryals and others have been amazed at his quick progress.
Ryals said her son has been a miracle since the day he was born weighing only 4 pounds.
Four years to the day before his balcony fall, Hunter was involved in a serious car accident in North Carolina.
"He had a ruptured spleen, a damaged kidney, and he died two times in the ambulance,'' Ryals said.
Hunter doesn't talk much about his accidents to anyone other than his mother.
Ryals said she believes God has a plan for Hunter's life.
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