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Injured city employee continues long recovery

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The long recovery for Otis Johnson has begun, but his co-workers and colleagues around Gwinnett have chipped in to help his family.

Johnson, a city of Lawrenceville employee, was critically injured when high winds caused a tree limb to crush the truck Johnson was driving on Stone Mountain Street on Dec. 10. Co-workers of Johnson helped provide Christmas gifts for Johnson's family, which includes his wife, Mandy, and two children.

An account is established at Brand Banking Company to help with medical bills for Johnson who has worked at the city for about seven years.

"His spirits are picking up," said Johnson's supervisor, John Huggins. "It's going to be a long road."

Huggins, who visited Johnson at home before Christmas, said Johnson cannot see out of his left eye, suffered a broken neck, damage to three vertebrae and had five plates inserted to reconstruct his face.

Johnson may need additional surgery in about six months, and there isn't a timetable for his return to work yet, Huggins said.

When the incident happened, Huggins said Johnson was on his way to an assignment to program gas meters.

Huggins said Johnson's family and co-workers are "so grateful for everything been done for him," which included a donation from public works employees of the city of Suwanee.

Huggins said Bill Barnes, an assistant to the director of public works in Suwanee, told him several workers were just sitting around talking and wanted to help out someone who does a similar job as them.

The city of Lawrenceville is planning an employee luncheon soon where Johnson's co-workers can contribute to help his recovery.

"We've had a lot of people out of nowhere come in and donate a little here or there," Huggins said. "It's wonderful. Money would be the greatest help, and their prayers."