Jeff Colvin broke his back, shattered 19 ribs and both of his scapulas, as well as punctured a lung, while his son Judge suffered a severe traumatic brain injury

By Joelle Goldstein
June 18, 2020 03:47 PM
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Jeff, Shelly, and Judge Colvin
GoFundMe

A Nashville father and his 3-year-old son are lucky to be alive after they were crushed by a massive tree that came barreling down while they were attempting to get home before a storm, the family said.

Jeff Colvin and his son Judge both suffered severe injuries in the May 3 incident, but have since been released from their respective hospitals, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Jeff's wife Shelly and two of the family's loved ones.

The Colvins are now living together in an Atlanta rental home, near where Jeff and Judge are undergoing outpatient rehab, while they cope with the "fallout from this tragedy" — something they hope the GoFundMe can help with, they wrote.

"It takes all the courage we can muster to ask for your assistance, even while knowing that many of you have already offered and many more are willing," Shelly wrote. "It's overwhelming to consider the encouragement, love, and support we've already received, and we're awestruck by the grace and generosity provided us daily, both in ways we see, and in ways unseen but felt."

The incident happened last month while Jeff and Judge were hiking and attempting to escape a storm, according to Shelly's Instagram. On the GoFundMe page, Shelly said her husband and son "came within an inch of their lives" when the 75-foot red oak tree crashed down on them.

Jeff and Judge Colvin
GoFundMe

From the impact of the tree, Jeff broke his back, shattered 19 ribs and both of his scapulas, as well as punctured a lung. Judge, meanwhile, suffered a "severe traumatic brain injury" that caused him to be in a coma for two weeks, according to the GoFundMe.

After being "closely and carefully monitored by the heroes at Monroe Carroll, Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt," Shelly said her son was transferred to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) on May 27 because Tennessee does not offer inpatient rehabilitation for children with brain injuries.

In the meantime, Jeff underwent spinal surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to fuse his broken vertebrae and to insert a steel rod, Shelly explained.

"It's nothing short of a miracle that both survived their injuries, and in Jeff's case, is able to use his legs," she wrote on the GoFundMe, adding that, "Because of the global pandemic, cruelly, neither Jeff nor Judge have been allowed visitors during their hospital stays."

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"I've been living with Judge and, mercifully, both hospitals have made a couple of exceptions along the way, so that Jeff could see Judge and I for a short time...but our family having to be apart over the last six weeks with no other visitors has been very tough for us to endure emotionally," she added.

By June 13, Jeff had been released from the Nashville hospital and was completing his rehab treatments at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta while living in the nearby rental home, according to the GoFundMe.

As for Judge, Shelly said it was uncertain how his brain would heal and disclosed that "doctors have warned us that he may have life-long complications from the severity of his injuries."

"We pray for a complete healing every day, and we are certain that our family is still living through an active, fluid, and dynamic miracle, that our precious Judge will recover fully, and will live a full and rich life, forever to be known as the boy that took on a majestic red oak, and lived to tell about it!" she wrote.

"We're incredibly grateful that both Jeff and Judge were able to transfer to two of the top facilities in the country to undergo their rehab work," Shelly added. "Once Judge is discharged from CHOA and is ready to begin his outpatient work, we have rented a home where the three of us will finally reunite as a family. What a happy day that will be!"

That "happy day" finally came on Wednesday when Shelly revealed on her Instagram that Judge had been discharged from CHOA and the family was able to be reunited.

Despite their excitement, Shelly noted how she and Jeff had come to terms with the financial burdens that would be placed on them because of the "long-term therapy and care [that] both will require."

"We're absorbing the sobering reality that the cost of this unexpected event outstretches the resources we have available," she wrote on the fundraiser.

Though it wasn't easy for either parent to do, they agreed to set up a GoFundMe to assist with their medical expenses. Since its creation on June 13, the page has raised over $144,000.

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On the page, Shelly vowed to return the favor to anyone who was kind enough to support them on their journey to recovery.

"This has been a humbling exercise, and one that has required us to face our hubris and drop our pride for the good of our family, especially for Judge," she wrote. "Please know that once we're to the other side of this, a 'Healthy Family Together Again', and back on firm footing, both physically and financially, we'll repay the charity given us to the life-saving, care-giving, soul-enriching healthcare providers who have nurtured Judge back to good health, sound mind, and strong spirit."

"Your gifts will be paid forward, but our family will be forever indebted to the angels who, we believe, appeared to us even as that tree began to fall, and will stay with us for time eternity," Shelly added.

Speaking to PEOPLE, Shelly says she's been able to endure through the difficult times because of how much she adores her husband and son.

"My boys are everything to me. There's just no other option but to show up for them every single minute," she says. "It feels wonderful to have the family together again, but we're still working on the health... and discovering new physical and mental issues each day."

Adds Shelly: "My biggest source of comfort is my belief that events happen for reasons outside of our control and that there is always something good that results from them. I'm already witnessing new good things in my family's life and in the lives of our community of family and friends."

Those interested in helping the Colvin family can do so here.