Sept. 20 started out a normal day for Harold "Dendy" Brown.
The 40-year-old commuted to College Station from his home in Gause -- something he's done for 16 years -- to work as a route manager for the city's public works department.
That Thursday, he stopped on the northbound lane of Wellborn Road and got out to empty a trash can. A driver of a sport-utility vehicle saw him stop and slowed down. But a Dodge Challenger behind the SUV did not slow down in time, rear-ending the SUV with such force it overturned, police said. The Dodge hit Brown while he was standing along the street.
"It's always been scary over there on Wellborn Road," he said. "People don't seem to move over."
Brown's worst injuries were to his left leg, although he also sustained a shoulder injury and crushed vertebrae. He spent almost two months in the hospital rehabilitating and enduring surgeries, including muscle tissue reassignment.
"The skin on top of my bone died, and I had to be transported to Baylor Scott & White [Medical Center] in Temple to see a plastic surgeon who knew how to do microsurgery," he explained.
Brown has at least three more surgeries scheduled and currently has to use a wheelchair. He is unable to work, and his wife, Jamie, stays home full time to help him with daily tasks. He can stand up straight, but physical and occupational therapists are still leading him toward the eventual goal of walking again. Doctors project that his right shoulder will have permanent nerve damage, but the general hope is that Brown will walk again and return to work as soon as possible.
"The doctors seem to think I have a pretty good recovery [possibility]," he said. "One doctor thinks I may walk with a limp."
The couple own several animals, such as cows and chickens, that need outdoor care. A family member and next-door neighbor have been lending a hand with the livestock, as Jamie Brown is limited from lifting heavy objects after a recent appendix surgery. Brazos Valley residents have truly embraced the Browns with compassion and generosity, the couple said.
"The city has been fabulous and outstanding to me, including my bosses, human resources people handling my claim -- they've all been great," Brown said.
With neither of the Browns working full time during the recovery -- though he does receive a portion of his salary while he recovers -- many have offered help to the couple. In late October, Brown's friend Jason Carranza, owner of NerdVana arcade and novelty shop, hosted a fundraiser along with Alphagraphics to cover day-to-day costs the couple incurs. Employees with the city of College Station recently hosted their own fundraiser, and members of Brethren Church of Bryan-College Station cooked the couple a hot Thanksgiving meal. Jamie Brown noted that on one occasion, a donation of $200 just showed up in their mailbox from an anonymous person.
"We still have friends and family bring us food so we don't have to cook," Brown said. "... People I've never even met have been pouring out their hearts."
The couple said they've wanted an opportunity to publicly express their gratitude to the community.
"The main thing we want to do is tell everyone 'Thank you,' " Jamie Brown said.
Brown emotionally expressed that he now regularly fears that someone he cares for or who has helped his family will be hurt in a vehicle collision, just as he was.
"I would hate for something to happen to somebody who came to [help] me," he said.
The man driving the Dodge Challenger was not criminally charged or cited at the time of the collision, according to CSPD spokesman Lt. Craig Anderson, though it is possible a citation was issued later, as the police investigation progressed. The Browns do not know the identity of the person who was driving the Challenger.
"It isn't like he intended to hit me, so some days I have no grudge against him," Brown said. "But some days, I'm in pain and want to do the same thing to him. I guess I just want to tell him about it. But it's not like he intended to hit me. ... It may have been one of those split-second things."
It is unclear how soon Brown will be able to return to work, as several months of surgeries await him, but the couple remains hopeful.
"We just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped, not even just with money, but people who prayed for us and kept us in their thoughts, too," he said. "That's good mojo."