Just days after walking across the stage as a graduate of Lambert High School, Forsyth County teen Holden Ludwig was struck and critically injured during a two-vehicle wreck in south Forsyth.
Family members say that on June 4, the teen was celebrating his accomplishment and readying for orientation at Kennesaw State University when his vehicle was struck by a driver that reportedly ran a red light at the intersection of Peachtree Parkway and Old Alpharetta Road.
And in a snap, the Ludwig family’s time of celebration and excitement was transformed into a rollercoaster of fear and grief.
But according to Jordan Ludwig, Holden’s dad, over the past week, with the prayers and support of the local community, Holden has started to take baby steps on the long road ahead to recovery.
"It's going to be a long road; they said that from the start," Jordan Ludwig said. “There have been some scary moments along the way. But the rollercoaster has kind of mellowed and his vitals are stable, so that much is good. We're counting our blessings."
On Monday, Holden crossed a big milestone in the recovery process, Jordan Ludwig said. Although the teen hasn’t fully regained consciousness, he was able to respond to commands and give them a thumbs up from his hospital bed.
“That was absolutely huge,” he said. “Our baby's still in there, and he's fighting.”
To speed the teen’s recovery, a candlelight vigil was held at Lambert on Friday, June 14 and streamed live on Facebook.
After a few words and a song from hospital chaplain David Anthony Spencer Jr., Ludwig addressed the crowd, thanking them for the support that has been shown to his family since the wreck.
"I couldn't let this moment pass without saying thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a snap to really shift everything for you, to really realize quickly what's important and what's not."
Ludwig told the crowd that because of their support, his family has been able to focus solely on Holden’s recovery. He said that he was amazed that even from a hospital bed his son had connected and brought together so many people.
"That was the thing that always impressed me ... the fact that he could connect with people deeply and connect circles of people together," he said. "And look at this circle, right? That's a testament right there of what Holden was about, connecting with people and blurring those lines and bringing people together.”
After the vigil, Ludwig said that their family also wanted to take the grief people were sharing and turn it into something positive. He said that surprisingly, people had instantly gotten the message they were trying to send.
“We really wanted to turn that into positivity and hope, and shift thoughts and the prayers away from the tragedy of everything towards the light that he brought into so many people’s lives," he said. "We definitely feel as if that's the tone that's been set, and we're hoping that everybody really feels the gratitude from my family for everything they've been doing."
As of Tuesday, a Meal Train donation campaign had raised more than $11,762 for the family. For more information on how to donate, visit www.mealtrain.com/trains/7w2y8m.
Officials say that the cause of the wreck is still under investigation by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office’s Traffic Specialist Unit.