LUMBERTON — Since her son was injured in a wreck near Lumberton on Thursday, Suella Russell says she has seen the best and the worst of people.
Strangers came to 28-year-old Corey Boulware’s aid after his car ran off of N.C. 41, making sure he and his two children were OK. A quick-thinking woman may have helped saved his leg, which was broken in five places, by wrapping it in diapers to stop the bleeding.
Suella is grateful for those “guardian angels” — and shocked that after the accident, Corey’s life savings were apparently stolen from his mangled car.
“We can’t comprehend how someone who could see this car would have the audacity to take money from him,” Suella said on Monday. “It’s left us broken-hearted.”
According to Suella, Corey and his two children, Jaydan, 9, and Gabby, 5, were headed to meet her in White Lake for a family vacation to celebrate both her and Jaydan’s birthdays. As Corey approached Dublin, he glanced back at Gabby, then down at his GPS and ran off the road.
“We’re very fortunate he’s alive,” Suella said. “Another four inches and he would have hit this huge tree head on.”
Corey checked on his children and realized a bone was protruding from his leg. Jaydan suffered a fractured vertebrae and torn ligaments and was flown to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for emergency surgery. He spent his 9th birthday in the hospital — staff there bought him a gift, made a banner and sang “Happy Birthday” — and was still in the hospital on Monday. Gabby suffered cuts and a sprained ankle.
Corey, whose father was killed in a car accident, underwent surgery at Southeastern Regional Medical Center and was still at the hospital on Monday. Suella said doctors placed a rod and two plates in his broken leg and are monitoring it to make sure the limb doesn’t get infected.
“The surgeon … said it was very possible he could have lost his leg,” Suella said.
While in the hospital, Corey told his sister to check the glove box of his now-wrecked vehicle. He has been working part-time as a barista at Starbucks and had been stowing his tips there in anticipation of the trip. Additionally, Corey had just gotten a full-time job in Greensboro and had cashed his first paycheck just before the vacation. All in all, he had $3,500 stored in the car.
When Corey’s sister visited the body shop where the vehicle was had been towed, she found his billfold and cell phone on the floor of the car, but Corey’s money wasn’t in the leather Samsonite case he kept it in. Items he had also stored in the case were scattered around the car.
“That was everything he had,” Suella said. ” … He’s worked so hard.”
The Robesonian has elected not to name the body shop because it did not want to imply wrongdoing on the part of people who work there.
To help pay for medical care and to replace the missing money, the family has started a GoFundMe fundraiser page, entitled “Corey’s Leg Up,” which can be found at gofundme.com/4c5dvw6pxc. Because Corey had just started his full-time job, he does not have insurance. Suella said the family has been blown away by the support they’ve received so far. A couple that stopped to help Corey and the children — and employed the leg-saving diapers — has visited Corey and continues to call for updates.
“We’ve got people all over the country praying for him and we’re just praying that whoever took that money will see his story. If they would just return it we would be so grateful,” Suella said.