A North Wilkes High School student has improved since a Jan. 12 skateboard accident on C Street in North Wilkesboro left him with a cracked skull, bleeding on the brain and seizures.
Russell Vannoy, 17, of McGrady was unconscious and on a ventilator at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem for the first few days.
He was supposed to be moved from Wake Forest Baptist to Atrium Health Levine Children’s Specialty Center in Charlotte this week, said his older brother, Erik Morgan.
The extent of Vannoy’s brain injury is uncertain but his condition improved early this week.
“Russell is walking now and is off the feeding tube. He can say a few words,” said Morgan on Monday evening. “He is being transferred to Charlotte tomorrow for therapy, but no word on how long that stay will be. He also has regained movement in his right arm.”
Last week, Morgan said doctors were only saying they’re hopeful he’ll make a recovery, but they couldn’t say how much. “They say the fact that he is young and in good shape is in his favor.”
Vannoy is a standout athlete on the football and track teams at North Wilkes High, where he is a junior. He has played football since early in elementary school.
“If mom (Rhonda Meadows) says his name, he’ll look toward her and will follow her (with his eyes) around the room,” said Morgan, 16 years older than his brother.
Morgan established a GoFundMe page to raise money for their mother’s expenses since she can’t work while spending most of her time in the hospital with Vannoy. He said their mother is remarkably strong but needs this help.
The GoFundMe page is at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help- russell-vannoy -and-his-family?utm_campaign=p_cp+share- sheet&utm_medium= copy_link_all&utm_source=customer.
Vannoy was part of a small group skateboarding in downtown North Wilkesboro when the Jan. 12 accident occurred where C and Ninth streets intersect. It happened between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Morgan said Russell and at least some in the group were at the skate park in North Wilkesboro’s Smoot Park, but left after sunset since the skate park lacks lights.
Morgan said Vannoy rapidly became an adept skateboarder after taking up the sport six to seven months ago due to his athletic ability, but he hadn’t gone down the C Street hill. A skateboarder suffered a broken arm earlier on the hill, he added.
Vannoy was on a traditional skateboard rather than a longboard and wasn’t wearing a helmet when the accident occurred, said Morgan.
C Street’s eastern end is at the top of the hill near the North Wilkesboro Post Office. The intersection of C and Ninth streets is about 450 feet away, after a drop of about 50 feet.
Morgan said a woman who works for Wilkes Pediatrics in North Wilkesboro was waiting in a car below the intersection to pick up her son at the Wilkes Art Gallery and saw Vannoy fall.
He said the woman did what she could for Vannoy while one of the other skateboarders called 911 as she instructed.
Wilkes Emergency Medical Services transported him to Wake Forest Baptist in an ambulance because no AirCare helicopter was available.
Morgan said Vannoy is a lovable person with a smile that will light up a room. “He’s a little goofy at times but that’s partly why people love him…. In football, he treats everyone the same.”
He said his brother also is a very determined and strong-willed person.