ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia Tech student who was missing for two days until friends located him along railroad tracks in downtown Atlanta claimed he was beaten by a group of homeless men, according to a woman who found him.
Emma Jeffrey told WSB-TV that James Hubert, 24, said the assault happened after he left a party Friday night.
Jeffrey and Alexandra Vanderlinde used a cellphone app to track his location to an isolated spot where they found him Monday morning, she said.
Photos and video taken by friends show Hubert, wearing a dirty, ripped-up dress shirt and slacks, appearing disoriented as he lay on the ground while an emergency worker cared for him near the railbed.
Jeffery said they discovered Hubert lying in a ditch.
"We were about to turn around and then there was a shaded area over in a ditch, and I said, 'What's that?'" Jeffrey said. "And sure enough, it was Jimmy.
"He was laying face down. His head was turned to the side. His eyes were open. He wasn't speaking at first. I just made sure he was OK. He opened his eyes, and then he just said, 'Where am I? Am I missing?' I was like, 'Yeah. You've been gone since Friday night.'"
According to the Facebook page of Hubert’s mother, he suffered broken vertebrae, broken ribs, a broken scapula and a punctured lung and is paralyzed on his “left side (hopefully temporary). He’s in a lot of pain and on morphine resting.”
She said he left a sorority formal in northwest Atlanta and got on MARTA alone, adding he was not on drugs or drunk.
A video posted Monday on her social media page shows her son rubbing a friend’s beard, while a photo shows him flashing a peace sign.
Police initially said there was no sign of foul play, and Atlanta police spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy said Tuesday that investigators still had not been able to speak with Hubert, who remains hospitalized.
"We are not ruling anything out but we need to be able to get his version of events directly from him and not what friends and family are saying," Espy said in an email responding to questions.
Hubert, who is vice president of the school's Phi Delta Theta fraternity, was found a few blocks from a MARTA station, police said. The transit agency is cooperating with Atlanta police on the investigation but has no proof Hubert rode any MARTA trains during the time he was missing, spokesman Lyle Harris said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.