Motorcycle wreck victim on road to recovery - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Motorcycle wreck victim on road to recovery

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September 9, 2004

Albany- The scene of a motorcycle wreck was the last time James Burgess would be conscious for three months.

Six months later, he's home and lucky to be alive.

"I had to give up the fast lane," Burgess said. "It's time to settle down and do what's right."

Serious internal injuries and nerve damage to his right leg keep him in constant pain.

"When I impacted the car, it shoved me into my gas tank and I folded it up and it just split me wide open."

Part of what saved James' life was paramedics who were in a nearby parking lot.

"If they wouldn't have been there. I wouldn't be here for sure."

"The paramedics and the doctors we had at Phoebe, the doctors there on the scene the night of the accident, that's why we here," said Jane Burgess, James' mother.

First responders were only doing their daily heroic duty. But one chose that day to be a thief.

Albany Police officer James Thomas stole James' wallet and the $2,000 in cash inside. Thomas was fired and sentenced to to five years probation, the first 12 months to be served in a diversion center. He was also ordered to repay the money he stole, but James Burgess hasn't gotten it yet.

"From his point of view and I guess he didn't think I was going to make it. That's the reason he decided he needed the money more than I did. It hurt to know that they're out there to protect and to serve."

The emotion of telling his story still makes him shake. But the 7-month old daughter he knows he's living for gives him hope.

"I believe that the reason I'm here is so I can watch her grow up and be her daddy And that's what I'm going to do."

Because the moment he lost consciousness was an awakening for him that changed his life forever.

posted at 11:11 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com