Awake from coma, hurt officer says first words

Morris News Service
Athens-Clarke County Police Sgt. Courtney Gale was in a coma for three weeks after an attack while working as a guard at Kroger on Dec. 11.

ATHENS, Ga. --- An Athens-Clarke police officer who was nearly stabbed to death last month and spent three weeks in a coma spoke her first words this week, telling her mother she loved her.


"Of course, it was wonderful to hear her and know that she clearly recognized me," Linda Gale said Thursday.

Sgt. Courtney Gale, 31, was off duty, working as a security guard at a Kroger the night of Dec. 11 when Steven Anthony Eberhart, a man with a history of mental illness, allegedly attacked her.

Sgt. Gale's femoral artery was severed, and she would have bled to death if a nurse who was shopping at the supermarket hadn't helped, according to police.

Sgt. Gale underwent several surgeries and nearly lost a leg. She remains in the intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital.

Ms. Gale is optimistic about her daughter's recovery.

"Other than saying, 'love you, Mom,' she's not making a lot of sense, just trying to make a lot of words," Ms. Gale said. Doctors are not sure what, if any, lasting mental damage her daughter will have, she added.

"None of us at this point know what the eventual outcome will be," she said.

Meanwhile, supporters and strangers continue to chip in to help pay her medical expenses.

A fundraiser at the Kroger store where Sgt. Gale was attacked raised $10,588 through a barbecue and a silent auction.