Life support

Fairhope teenager on life support after crash as family searches for answers

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WKRG) – 04/20 UPDATE – Payton Nelson has been breathing on his own since Wednesday night according to his family. Her father, Thomas, tells us the ventilator was removed around 5 p.m.


The Alabama law enforcement agency said its preliminary investigation found it was a single-vehicle crash that seriously injured a teenager on Friday night, but the victim’s family think something else happened.

“He has breathing problems, maybe a blood clot in his lung. They did surgery to remove part of his skull,” Thomas Nelson said, describing his son Payton’s condition on Tuesday.

Payton is still on life support, but his father says he is slowly improving, even shaking hands with a friend to answer questions from his hospital bed.

“I would venture to say that the average 17-year-old wouldn’t have experienced this. Definitely in my mind,” he said.

The motorbike he was riding is now in a wrecking yard, but it’s a key piece of evidence that Payton’s family say tells the story of what happened late Friday night on the roads of county 13 and 24.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he took a hard hit from behind. Car, truck or whatever. I’ve seen a lot of motorcycle wreckage and this is probably one of the worst rears I’ve ever seen. I’ve ever seen,” continued Thomas Nelson.

Despite early findings from ALEA, they believe Payton was in the back at the intersection due to damage to the rear of the motorcycle.

“The taillight is broken and the rear fender is bent. The seat is still physically curled up like a scorpion tail. We’re hopeful he won’t have any real brain damage,” he said .

As they wait for answers, they all shoot for Payton and a full recovery.

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