Drunk driver leaves father, son with brain injuries; family turns to public for help

It has been a tough year for the VerHines family.

A drunk driver left a father and son battling severe brain injuries. Their long road to recovery is putting the family business they built in Wayne at risk. It's a business that has been in the family for more than 50 years, and now both are unable to work and unable to care for themselves.

Their lives changed forever on April 29, 2015. John and Bill VerHines, who own Gramco Furniture restoration in Wayne, had just finished making a delivery. Traffic had come to a stop on the freeway in Livonia when an underage drunk driver - going 70 mph - struck them from behind, nearly bending their truck in half. The driver was 20 years old and his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit. He received probation.

"It was a shock," says Erin VerHines. "I didn't understand how bad it was until we got to the hospital."

"The impact itself shook the brains so hard that their brains hit the insides of their skulls, giving them brain injuries."

Now not only does Erin care for her two toddlers and disabled mother-in-law, but she now cares for her 33-year-old husband and his 57-year-old father, who can no longer work and require around-the-clock attention.

The traumatic brain injuries have impacted their vision, hearing, mobility and mental faculties. Both need intense therapy every day.

"I thought we would have what we needed at this difficult time," Erin says. "We thought our insurance companies would be cooperative and supportive, but they weren't. We don't have income. It makes it very difficult to live."

Because of the financial need the community is hosting Restoring VerHines Legacy, a spaghetti fundraiser at the First United Methodist Church in Wayne on Friday. It's on the one-year anniversary of the devastating accident.

"We talked about the man that hit him, we forgave him, we decided we would forgive him," Erin says. "I've had to forgive him a lot of times, I do forgive him."

Erin looks to her faith to give her the strength every day.

Recovery has been slow. Sadly, doctors told Erin that because of his age, John will never fully recover from his injuries, but she is hoping her husband will. So her children will get to know what kind of man he is, the man she once knew.

"Things are different now. I hope he can work and be fulfilled that way," she says. "It was his passion it was his passion before and it got taken away."

To donate to the family go to their GoFundMe page CLICK HERE. The spaghetti dinner and bake sale for the family will be held at First United Methodist Church, 3 Towne Square Street, Wayne. It is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 6 years old.

For more information email RestoringVerhineslegacy@gmail.com or call (734) 713-8620.