Ernest Tanner doesn’t remember anything about the night he was nearly killed, so he relies on the information people give him.
He’s gradually pieced together the details surrounding Aug. 8, when he was struck from behind by a pickup truck while riding his bicycle at night on Tobacco Road.
“It’s just amazing when people tell me things,” Tanner said Tuesday from his home in a neighborhood off Mike Padgett Highway. Doctors call his recovery from substantial brain injury a miracle, “which is kind of embarassing but maybe it’s the truth.”
Tanner has been home about three weeks after months of recovery in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. His days are a combination of building up his strength at area YMCA facilities and long periods of rest. He measures progress in a half-mown yard, a partially cleaned attic.
“I’m just trying to get back to functional,” Tanner said.
The driver in the wreck, Willie Ferrell, pleaded no contest in April to following too closely and was sentenced to 12 months probation. The bent frame of the bicyle still sits at the door as a reminder of how close he came to death. Tanner said he would frequently start rides late after work.
“I should have been prepared,” Tanner said. “I didn’t have a light or anything.”
Tanner was a history teacher at First Academy before the collision and is considering going back to the classroom when classes resume. But he’s still having trouble reading and his mental faculties still aren’t as sharp as before the wreck. Tanner still struggles to form sentences during conversations.
“I’ve thought about (teaching again), but I’ll only go back if my brain is 100 percent,” he said.
Tanner has been riding a stationary bike at the YMCA and is eager to get back on the road when the doctor gives the all clear.
“I’d be on one right now if I could get away with it,” he said.