On Thursday, January 2, 2020, Brandon Walker ended a busy work day and walked to a nearby shop to grab a cup of coffee before driving to New Orleans for the weekend. He started across the street – and woke to hear an EMT tell him he was on his way to Ben Taub Hospital.
His injuries were severe. In addition to facial lacerations, he had multiple fractures to his forehead, cheekbones, nose and jaw. It would be up to a talented team of surgeons to put his face back together. Ironically, Brandon is a TV reporter.
He spent the weekend in the intensive care unit. On Monday, his surgery started at 6 a.m., and four surgeons tag-teamed for almost 12 hours. “When I woke up,” he remembers, “I saw quite a few smiles, so I thought, ‘Okay, it worked out.’”
The next morning, reality came crashing down. “I woke at 4 a.m. The pain was unbearable. I was asking, ‘Why me? All I did was cross the street. Is my career over?’ About 5 a.m., a doctor came in. She reassured me. Her talk did more than talk me off a ledge. It made me rest and begin to recover.”
That’s only part of his gratitude. His care was “amazing. I don’t know where to begin. The surgeons who pieced my face back together were masterful. The level of skill and experience under the roof of Ben Taub is remarkable. Today, nothing about my face suggests it was smashed in. I’m forever grateful.”
The accident and recovery forced Brandon to slow down and live in the moment. “This is a lesson in privilege,” he says. “To walk away from this trauma … the outcome isn’t as positive for others. I’ve been granted a second chance.”
Brandon is seizing that chance, working with a trainer to condition his body and a therapist to deal with the trauma. Because he lives in the public eye, Brandon’s accident was more visible than most. “The outpouring of love takes my breath away. People do care.”
During his recovery, Brandon learned about a good Samaritan who helped after the accident. Alex, a high school senior, directed another driver to call 911, ran to his car for a t-shirt to wrap Brandon’s head and directed traffic. The two have connected, and Brandon says, “Whether or not he wants one, he has a new older brother.”