ROCK HILL — Paramedics were sure Voncorie Poo Bear Barnette wouldnt live after he was thrown from his 2004 Suzuki motorcycle onto Dave Lyle Boulevard in an accident that shut down parts of the street for more than two hours.
That was the prognosis on June 2, when Barnette, who wasnt wearing a helmet, collided with 33-year-old Michael Scrantons 1998 Ford Taurus just minutes after Barnette evaded police when they commanded him to stop for driving recklessly.
Scranton, a Catawba resident, was wearing a seat belt and was uninjured, but Barnette, police records show, was expected to die.
But, they dont know my God, said his mother, Evelyn Barnette, about her son, a 31-year-old father who is alive today.
Still, Barnette more commonly known by friends and family as Corie, Poo Bear or just Poo didnt walk away from the accident unscathed.
He sits in a wheelchair from time to time, Evelyn Barnette said. He communicates in hums and by writing with pencils on scraps of paper.
And, she said, he often reaches for the right leg he no longer has.
I think hes going through depression, his mother said, describing her sons slow and sometimes frustrating recovery at Carolinas Rehabilitation Center in Charlotte. They had to amputate his leg from the knee down. It was rough.
The road ahead could also be rough if Cories mind isnt right, said Bob Lindsay, pastor of Sylvia Church Baptist Church, where droves of supporters crowded into the sanctuary Sunday to raise money to help with Cories medical bills.
When a person has their leg amputated ... your body will compensate for the loss of that limb, Lindsay said.
Lindsay should know. Almost 60 years ago, he lost his leg in an accident he didnt want to discuss. He now sports a prosthesis but still has to look down to walk.
For Corie, phantom pains may be common, Lindsay said, and thoughts of worthlessness can run rampant. Corie will have to learn to walk again and may have to learn to judge the floor before he takes a step.
Though the road to recovery will be difficult, if you ask Cories father, Melvin Barnette, it could all be much worse.
God brought him from the brink of death, the elder Barnette said before he led a church sanctuary filled with supporters in song. Ive got my son he may be maimed but hes alive.
After he recited a prayer thanking God for his sons survival, Melvin Barnette moved his arms back and forth like a seesaw and declared through a microphone that God is awesome.
The event, organized by Cories uncle, June Barnette, spotlighted gospel talent by Rock Hills Abundant Life Church and the Gospel Hi-Lighters, who have been singing for 19 years.
June Barnette, known to host events to raise money in the community for a number of causes, said he didnt want to throw a fundraiser for his nephew until the family was sure he would pull through.
Theyre remaining hopeful. Minutes before the accident on June 2, police tried to stop Barnette when they saw him changing lanes quickly on Dave Lyle, according to a Rock Hill police report. Police followed Barnette and used an intercom to order him to stop.
He didnt listen, the report states, but continued to accelerate. Police didnt try to match Barnettes speed and gave up pursuit.
Not much later, they received word that he was involved in a traffic accident. He was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
More than two weeks later, hospital officials told police that Barnette had made great strides, and his prognosis had changed, according to another police report. His chances of survival had greatly improved.
The Highway Patrol continued its investigation, and troopers realized Barnette did not have an active insurance policy on the motorcycle and that his license had been suspended for another accident, according to police records.
Police prepared an arrest warrant for Barnette, charging him with failing to stop for police. Theyve also cited him for reckless driving, driving under suspension, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and driving without a motorcycle drivers license, according to Rock Hill police documents. The case is closed until they serve the warrant and tickets.
Barnette, a Northwestern High School and Kings College graduate, enjoyed playing football, track, softball all the sports in school, his mother said.
He was a hardworking man, holding down a job at Walmart while supporting his three-year girlfriend, Pepsii Staton, and their 2-year-old daughter, Malejah Barnette.
But Malejah, who asks about her daddy all the time, is struggling to know this new daddy now without his trademark dreadlocks, unable to speak and suffering from brain damage, her mother said.
I tell her that hes sick, said Staton, who added that Corie practically became a stay-at-home dad while she attended cosmetology school at Kenneth Shuler on Cherry Road. He cooked . . . He cleaned. . . He did everything.
She (Malejah) cant hear his voice, Staton said. Shell whine when she sees him at the hospital.
Four hours before Barnette took his motorcycle ride on Dave Lyle, he called his cousin, Angie Barnette, to let her know he was planning to attend her mothers surprise birthday party at the Elks Lodge on Ogden Road.
Thats where many family members received the news of the accident, said Angie Barnette, who family members credit with giving Corie his nickname Poo Bear.
When he was born, I was the babysitter, she said Sunday. He was like a chubby bear. Hes sweet. Hell make you laugh at anything.
Jonathan McFadden 803-329-4072