Originally created 11/15/02

Mother recalls accident in book



Jackie Boatwright couldn't believe the doctors wanted her to pull the plug on her son.

Every physician who entered the room seemed to remember a time when they had to make the hard decision. One had an uncle. Another had a father. A third mentioned a 96-year-old grandmother.

They were doing their best to talk her into giving up on Juan, her 14-month-old son, who was semi-comatose after nearly drowning in a mop bucket at a day care center.

"I was in a situation where I felt like I was being forced to give up hope. And I think that's my right," she said this week. "That was my baby laying in the bed, not theirs'. ... My baby just got started. I am not pulling the plug."

The Augusta mother recounts those frustrating days in an 88-page book called Juan's Story, an account of her spiritual journey after Juan's devastating accident Sept. 9, 2001. Ms. Boatwright will sign copies from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Books-A-Million on Washington Road.

In the book, she discusses how Juan was overmedicated, how his heart stopped once and how she found forgiveness for the day care owner.

There was anger, too. Ms. Boatwright details how she almost threw up when a judge in a civil lawsuit made insensitive comments about Juan and how she wanted to punch the opposing lawyer.

She also recalls lighter moments. "There's a lot of funny stuff in there, like my girlfriends trying to hook me up," she said.

Ms. Boatwright wrote the book this year over a two-month period, using the experience as a way to relieve stress.

"The more I wrote, the more relieved I felt," she said. "There were times when I would write and I would be crying so hard that I would have to stop and go and pick my baby up. I would cry for about 30 minutes and then go back and write some more."

A local company, Quality Printing in North Augusta, printed 500 copies, which are being sold to benefit the Anthony DeJuan Boatwright Assistance Fund.

Juan, now 2 years old, is semi-comatose and depends on a ventilator. The day care was state licensed but did not have insurance, and his medical bills have financially crippled his mother.

Ms. Boatwright is crusading for a change in state law that would require day cares to get liability insurance or inform parents that they do not have it.

Ms. Boatwright said her book helps her cause. She has also written and recorded a song and is working on recording three others.

Recently, she has begun working on a revised version of the book to update her battle. She's hoping someday to be on television.

"I'd like to be on Oprah and say, 'Girl, let me tell you,"' she said.

BOOK SIGNING

Jackie Boatwright will sign copies of Juan's Story at two Augusta bookstores. The book costs $21.95, and proceeds benefit the Anthony DeJuan Boatwright Assistance Fund.

SATURDAY

1-4 p.m.

Books-A-Million

2834 Washington Road

DEC. 21

2-4 p.m.

Borders Books Music & Cafe

257 Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.