Austin Childress has come a long way. Childress, a Chilton County High School graduate, was paralyzed for a time after a motorcycle wreck last year in Nashville, where he currently resides with his wife, Camille.
So serious was the trauma to his head that doctors had to open his skull to allow his brain to swell. But now Childress is back at work at Nashville’s The Hermitage Hotel. The aspiring musician even cut a record with some old Gospel tunes as a Christmas present for relatives.
Childress has come a long way, but he’s not quite there yet.
“I’d like to say he’s 99 percent, and we’re optimistic he will be at some point,” said Austin’s father, Alan Childress. “He’s got some things he’s still working through. We expect a full recovery. It may take weeks yet—or months—but we expect a full recovery.”
Part of the appeal of Childress’ employment at The Hermitage is that the hours allow him to spend time on his music career. Childress was off work and just a few miles from home on the afternoon of July 17, 2011—the day before his and Camille’s two-year anniversary—when a driver headed in the opposite direction apparently fell asleep at the wheel and caused a head-on collision.
Childress suffered bleeding in his brain. He wasn’t conscious when his skull was opened to allow the swelling, but he was aware of the painful procedure to sew his head back up.
He weighed 220 pounds before the wreck but came out of the hospital 40 pounds lighter. “Mainly he was really, really weak,” Alan Childress said. “He seems to be able to remember everything and everybody and carry on conversations.”
Alan’s wife and Austin’s mother, Lesia Childress, is a personal trainer at Cornerstone Fitness and Wellness, and her employers were gracious enough to let her take off four months to move to Nashville to help her son with his recovery.
Also helping were the multitude of friends, family and acquaintances in Chilton County praying for Austin. “We just want to make sure that we let people know that we appreciate the community so much—the county’s concern for him and the many prayers that were offered for him,” Alan Childress said. “We wanted for nothing during that time. The support was incredible.”
Austin Childress continues to work on his music, and he has joined a gym to build back up his strength. Because of his weakness associated with the recovery, his playful canine friend, a German Shepherd named Buck, went to live with Camille’s grandparents on Lake Mitchell for a while. Austin and Buck have been reunited. “Buck is a great therapeutic release for him,” Alan Childress said.
Many Chilton County residents remember seeing Alan Childress perform with a band named Thalon.
“We know folks would like to see him back on stage and singing again, and we’re looking forward to that day,” Alan Childress said. “That day is going to come.”