GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Bertie County Sheriff’s Deputy Colter Lipscomb continues his recovery after being critically injured when his patrol vehicle hydroplaned on U.S. 13 on Wednesday.
According to his mother, Netta Lipscomb, he is making remarkable progress at Vidant Medical Center.
Lipscomb is sedated and on a ventilator, but he has opened his eyes a few times overnight and responded to his mother’s voice with head nods.
Today, he was able to give doctors a thumbs up.
So far, the deputy has undergone two surgeries. One took place soon after his arrival at Vidant Medical Center, and repaired abdomen and chest injuries and bleeding.
The other, taking place the following day, repaired femur, hip, and pelvic fractures.
“I am in awe of this miracle,” Netta Lipscomb told WITN News.
“His dad and I, along with siblings, other family, and our community, will forever be thankful," said Lipscomb. "Colter is loved and supported by so many in the community.”
For close family friend Lorie Beth Thomas, Colter’s absence is already felt across the county.
“When we found out, it was pretty shattering, because he’s my husband’s best friend and he literally feels like part of our family,” Thomas said.
Thomas is the owner of Kaley Jase Boutique in downtown Windsor. She says Colter would drop into the store unannounced all the time to put a smile on their faces.
“He’s so loved, I think more than he knows,” Kaley Jase employee Renee Harden said. “He’s just made a really huge impact on our community.”
Lipscomb is also often seen at Rachel’s Bakery and Cafe enjoying lunch.
“Colter comes in here quite often,” said Sissie Dunlow behind the counter. “We see him running by the bakery. Often, they come in here to eat. We just think a lot of Colter. He’s a sweet guy.”
The bakery has now started a new tradition to keep Colter and his family in everyone’s prayers.
“Every to-go order that we get comes in a clear plastic tray. We tape one of these ‘Pray for Colter’ [signs] on it, along with a bible verse,” Dunlow said.
Keeping the Lipscomb family in their thoughts, everyone is reflecting on how important Colter’s presence, and his quirks, are to their lives.
“We thank him for the happiness that he brings,” Thomas said. “You never know what he’s going to do. He picks up animals all the time.”
Lauren Belch, who runs with Colter in the summertime, recalls a special moment shared between the two.
“He opened his back door, and he had a stork in a net on his back seat just walking around,” Belch said.
Fond of animals and a good laugh, Belch isn’t the only target of Colter’s tricks.
“I had a turtle left at my doorstep named Speedy,” Thomas said. “That’s the kind of stuff he does. He’s just funny. You never know when he’s popping in and he just really adds happiness and joy and fun to the community.”
Deputy Lipscomb is anticipated to make a full recovery from his injuries but will need extensive rehabilitation therapy to get there.
When he makes his return to Bertie County, his community has promised to help him, every step of the way.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Millions of people around the world stayed awake late Friday night to countdown to the New Year, but a group of Pitt County residents set their alarms early to usher in the New Year with a 5K Fun Run.
Hosted by Fleet Feet in Greenville, the run’s focus is to encourage obtainable fitness goals in the community and to support a local cause.
“One of the things we like to do is start this year with a goal. The goal is to be active-- a runner or walker,” said Fleet Feet owner Chris Loignon. “We’re happy to be the hub for the community when it comes to that.”
Loignon knows how it feels to look ahead at a daunting fitness goal. So, this year’s free Fun Run came without a timer clock.
“I’ve been running for 11 years, but I remember the first time I ran I didn’t run the whole time. I started as a walker, then a run-walker, then got into running,” said Loignon.
By following their motto of “small steps,” the Fleet Feet team wants to set examples of integrating healthy activities into daily life.
“That’s the beauty about being a runner or a walker,” explained Loignon. “You don’t have to pay for a membership. The gym is outside. Just pick up a beautiful day and head on out the door. And then you just go from there.”
The Fleet Feet team has some advice to start strong and keep up with your goals.
“Have accountability with your fellow runners,” said Fleet Feet general manager Rachel Craft. “It’s hard to get out when it’s cold, when it’s dark. But if you know your friends are there counting on you to show up, it makes it a little bit easier to show up.”
The 5K runners showed up on Saturday to support a local cause.
Fleet Feet has partnered with Pet Food Pantry and will be collecting donations throughout January.
“Each month throughout the year we always have a community partner that we choose to donate a portion of our sales to, raise money for, what have you,” said Loignon. “We already have this year planned out.”
This year, Loignon and his team hope to surpass their 2021 donation total of $30,000 given to the community.
Into the New Year, Fleet Feet will be announcing new changes and training programs for individuals setting marathon running goals.
You can find more information on their offerings here.
BEAUFORT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - This Christmas marks a first for a Beaufort County resident, Rachel Jordan. She is celebrating this year with only one kidney.
She reflects on what it meant to donate so her friend, Jon Anglemyer, could make it through a tough organ rejection.
Their surgeries took place in September at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
“They gave us like a two-week notice. It was like the beginning of September. Rachel texted me and was like, ‘Hey, I got the word. We’re having both of our surgeries on September 15th,’ said Anglemyer.
Now several months recovered, the transplant donor is in much better health.
“My energy levels have sky rocketed,” said Anglemyer. “Everybody tells me my color is so much better and I just have been feeling great. It’s like being given a new lease on life, that’s for sure.”
Jon received his kidney through the Kidney for Life program, where donors and recipients are matched based on DNA compatibility.
Rachel made a donation on his behalf to a toddler in Minnesota. In return, Anglemyer was matched with his own donated organ.
In September, the pair traveled to Minnesota for their surgeries. Just hours apart, the toddler, Gabriel Ryan, also went in for his surgery.
“I got to meet Gabriel’s mother and father the day after and see Gabriel,” said Jordan. “He was still sedated but yeah, I got to meet them right afterwards.”
Baby Gabriel was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. His parents were told to prepare to lose their child.
Thankfully, Gabriel was able to survive in utero until he was delivered at 37 weeks.
“I’m super happy for the boy up in Minnesota,” said Anglemyer. “He’s really been given a new lease on life because basically, they didn’t know what his outcome was going to be until Rachel stepped up and gave him a kidney.”
Going into the year with new kidneys and new goals, both Jon Anglemyer and Baby Gabriel are doing well.
“Just the thought that he can continue his life and see his kids go to college and grow up and do all that,” said Jordan, “and at the same time knowing that we helped someone else and that we get to continue that chain is really special.”
Anglemyer’s first kidney transplant was in done in combination with a liver transplant in his 20s. He is grateful to his friend for giving him another chance.
Especially as all transplant patients run the risk of organ rejection. About 30-percent of people who receive a kidney transplant will experience some type of rejection, usually within the first six month, but it can happen at anytime.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, about 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A Robersonville native made his 145th donation of blood in Greenville, bringing his grand total to more than 18 gallons.
Kirk Whitley has donated pints of his blood to the American Red Cross since November 1968.
On Saturday, he rolled up his sleeves again, saving 3 adults or 6 children’s lives with each contribution.
He added one more souvenir t-shirt to his collection and made his final donation of 2021.
He says a lot has changed since his first donation as a high school student.
“Instead of pricking your finger they did your ear and got the iron reading out of your ear,” he laughed.
Now getting his finger pricked every 56 days, 6 times a year, he has quite the collection of scrapbooking treasures to tell the tale.
“Every time, you get a little sticker that tells you when you do give,” said Whitley. “I’ve got a curio cabinet that is glass and I’ve got no telling the stickers that are on that curio cabinet.”
While the country experiences a blood shortage every year around the holidays, the need is especially dire because of the devastating tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest last week.
The American Red Cross told WITN that most donors only contribute once or twice a year.
“Donors like Kirk are the heart of our organization and help maintain that healthy blood supply,” said Cally Edwards of the Red Cross Eastern North Carolina Regional Chapter. “Red Cross blood donors can give up to six times a year, every 56 days. Kirk is one of those examples that does that.”
Whitley is happy to help anyone in need in this way. “But in return, they are helping me,” he said. “This just makes me a better person.”
Others have been inspired by his work, sending him personalized gifts as he hits his milestones.
“I went to the post office one day and this is what I got,” he said holding back tears and holding up a custom t-shirt. “I’ve used these principles: desire, discipline, dedication, and determination. And it has worked for me.”
Whitley doesn’t plan to stop at 145 pints.
“Next year at this time I’m going to have 150 pints, in 2022. Then in 2023, I hope to have 156 pints. In 2024, I’m looking at the big Super bowl, the gold. I’m going to have 162 pints--20 gallons.-- and we’ll kind of go from there.”
If you would like to donate this month, WITN is sponsoring a blood drive at the ENC Blood Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, December 22, 2021.
Both Power Red and traditional blood donations will be accepted.
A Power Red donation collects the red cells but returns most of the plasma and platelets to the donor.
These donors must meet specific eligibility requirements and have A Negative, B Negative, or O type blood.
A tradition blood donation is the most common, during which approximately one pint of “whole blood” is given.
The ENC Donor Center is located at 700 Cromwell Dr. Greenville, NC. 27858.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Hundreds of Greenville residents on Facebook showed their support for a local chef at Harvey’s Breakfast Place on South Memorial.
After Ms. Mary Sergio was rushed to Vidant Medical Center last week, the Harvey’s team shut their doors and focused all of their attention on her recovery.
Back behind the grill one week later, Ms. Mary attributes her speedy recovery to the love, support, and prayers of hundreds of fellow community members.
Walking into Harvey’s, you are immediately met with the smiling face of Ms. Mary.
“When I first got here it was like I had known Mary all my life,” diner patron John Patterson said. “She just makes you feel at home.”
For the owner of Harvey’s, Jay Bastardo, Ms. Mary is an integral piece of the history of the spot.
“Mary is the heart of this operation,” he said. “She’s the person who keeps everybody smiling.”
But smiles turned to panic last week when Ms. Mary collapsed on the job.
“Next thing you know, one of our staff members in the back just screams, ‘Jay! Mary’s down!’” he remembers. “She’s a strong, strong woman. And to see her in that situation, we didn’t take any chances, we’re calling 911.”
Bastardo closed the doors of the Breakfast Place early and posted an update on Facebook, where prayers and healing thoughts were posted in the comment section.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Bastardo said. “Seeing the entire community, not only on Facebook, showing love, but everywhere she goes now she’s being stopped and being asked, ‘Hey Mary! How are you?’”
This is something Ms. Mary isn’t used to.
“I go outside to the Piggly Wiggly and people say, ‘Are you okay?’” she said.
One week later, she is back on the grill, filling orders, and serving breakfast with a smile.
“I feel real good,” Ms. Mary said. “I’m glad to be home again with people who love me. It’s a family I’ve never had before. I’m blessed. God knows I’m blessed.”
Through her cooking, she is able to give everyone that takes a seat a slice of home.
“It’s always going to feel like more than a breakfast,” Patterson said. “You feel like you’re coming home and having a meal with your own mom, your own grandmother.”
Harvey’s Breakfast Place is open from Monday to Saturday from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Snorts and squawks were the sounds that marked a new beginning for the Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary in Onslow County as they officially reopened their gates on Sunday.
“We’re trying to let people who love animals have a place to express that love and be able to do things for them,” said sanctuary director Toni O’Neil. “Or just be able to support them financially knowing that there’s a place that’s going to continue to be here forever.”
The sanctuary faced many challenges in the past year, including damage from a hurricane and losing fundraising and volunteer opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newly renovated, O’Neil said they have the opportunity to teach the community about wildlife in North Carolina while also caring for those injured and in need of rehabilitation.
“We get a lot of babies and that people think they can raise themselves or birds of prey,” said volunteer Andrew Baughman. “They think they can keep his pets, but unfortunately, that isn’t best for the animal. They need care to be able to be released back into the wild.”
Care that Baughman is well-versed in, such as with possums.
“You can’t really release a possum with over half of its tail missing,” said Baughman. “They don’t use it to hang like you see in the movies. They do use it for balance and collecting nesting materials.”
Several of the sanctuary’s tenants are educational ambassadors, including a rabbit named Lorette, who is used to educate the public about the dangers of bunny breeding.
“People do breed a lot of rabbits and a lot of domestic animals in general. Domestic rabbits aren’t able to survive in the wild,” said Baughman. “They’re meant to be pets. The big thing with our education ambassadors is to help educate the public on my North Carolina’s wild life is so important to help conserve.”
At 16-years-old, Baughman takes on the educational responsibility fearlessly.
“Getting to know your affecting nature in such a positive way, combating the negative effects of people, getting to release them back into the wild— it’s very fulfilling. If the animals were not here we wouldn’t be here, so it’s pretty important to me to be able to do that as well,” he said.
The fall fundraiser is the sanctuary’s largest source of community income. More than $4,500 of prizes were raffled off to generate funds for continued improvements for the animals.
Guided tours are available daily at the sanctuary located at 119 Doe Dr. Hubert, NC 28539. More information on how to visit or support Possumwood Acres can be found here.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The Beau’s Buddies sponsored Turkey Trot for Tots had a record turnout this year for their annual 5K race and one mile fun run.
Nearly 700 people gathered along Greenville Blvd on Thursday to lace up their shoes, bare the cold, and raise money for families with children battling cancer.
“We started the first year, we were thinking if we had 75 to 100 people, we’d be ecstatic,” said Beau’s Buddies executive board member Jeff Gaddis. “This year we are at somewhere between 650 and 700, which is probably 250 more than last year.”
Each November, the Stanley family is reminded of the hardest time of their lives. Their 18-month-old son, Beau, was diagnosed with High Risk Stage III Neuroblastoma in 2006. One year later, he passed away on November 29.
“November is a difficult time, but this race kind of helps us,” said Beau’s mother, Jennifer Stanley. “It’s something to look forward to get us through this time of the year.”
Stanley recalls leaning on her community to make it through the dark times of Beau’s illness. Her family, through the work of the Beau’s Buddies Cancer Fund, brings people together to support families just like them.
“We named the organization after my son; we started this race in 2012,” said Stanley. “This is our tenth year, our biggest race yet.”
Not only did the Turkey Trot runners show their support for the sport, but also for the cancer foundation.
“All of our money stays in Eastern North Carolina and we do a multitude of things,” said Stanley.
The cancer fund as paid for gas cards, flights, and lodging for families, chemotherapy chairs and wagons for area hospitals, and even household bills.
“We’re able to get creative and think outside the box of ways to help families and partner with the case workers at the hospital and cancer center to do so,” said Gaddis.
Looking around at how many people woke up early to run in the chilly weather in her son’s name, Stanley remembered why they do this every year.
“I don’t know how we would have done it if we didn’t have support,” she said. “That’s kind of what our organization is for-- to give other families that.”
The 5K race was run by Landon Williams, a 16-year-old student at D H Conley High School. He was awarded a medal, a $150 Fleet Feet gift card, and a pie for his winning time of 16 minutes.
Williams’ entry fee, along with that of the hundreds of other runners, will continue Beau’s legacy in helping Eastern Carolina families in need.
NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - Dozens of service organizations came together to support Veterans in the east at the National Guard Armory in New Bern.
The outreach event was organized by NC Works and provided free hot meals, essential item packs, and haircuts for Veterans.
Among those to provide services for the former service members was the Disabled American Veterans organization, which provides lifelong membership and services to Veterans from benefit claims to medical transportation services.
“Usually when a Veteran comes to use and they have questions, we try to play the give and take to try and pull out from them exactly what they’re looking for,” said James Hunter of DAV Chapter #26.
For some that is a hot meal and for others, it is a ride to their doctor’s appointment.
After calling the DAV transportation line for their local chapter, volunteers will arrange the wheels for the Veteran.
“We will arrange for a pickup location, take them to their appointment, and bring them back home,” said Commander Robert Gracie of DAV Chapter #40. “This is all free of charge.”
The DAV also provided ready-to-go essential item packs. Something that Vietnam Veteran Karl Rush took advantage of, not only for himself and his service dog but also for a friend.
“I got quite a bit of stuff here... some for my dog, which is wonderful,” said Rush. “But I got a few things that actually I don’t need but I know I have a friend that was not able to get here. So, I’m going to take him socks and some other stuff.”
DAV representatives say that coming out to events like this is helpful for them to make new connections and share information about benefits that Veterans may not know they qualify for.
“There are a lot of Veterans honestly that don’t feel they deserve it just because they are standing upright and walking, but there are a lot of wounds that are invisible,” said Hunter.
Those looking to join the DAV will be met with the familiar faces of fellow Veterans at the chapters here in the East.
“I’m a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans,” said Rush. “They have what they call service officers that will help you get the benefits that you need as well as deserve.”
More information on how to become a member can be found here.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Amid labor shortages across the country, including in Eastern Carolina, a nonprofit partnered with other organizations to hold a one-stop shop on Saturday for those with prior convictions to get an expungement and get a job.
NC Reentry Innovators for Success (NC RIFS) held more than 100 appointments on Saturday with legal counsel volunteers from Legal Aide presenting expungements to Pitt County District Attorney Faris Dixon.
“What we really want to do is get people back into the community, working, taking care of their families, paying their taxes just like everybody else, and contributing,” said Dixon.
Often, a past conviction is the one thing preventing a person from getting a job. After they have served their time and proven they are on a better path, they can request the conviction be removed from their record.
“Offering these criminal expungement clinics enables more people to have eligibility to feel like they are part of the community and also to feel like they can contribute after they have some kind of relief,” said NC RIFS executive director Portia Bright Pittman.
An expungement of a former conviction essentially erases the incident from a person’s record.
“What that does is allows people you have gotten in trouble before with the criminal justice system, to show that they have had a period of time where they have not gotten trouble again and have become contributors to the community,” said Dixon, “and this allows them to get certain cases dismissed.”
The NC RIFS clinics operate on an appointment only basis, so those seeking their assistance should visit their website for more information on expungement processes.
The organization says that these clinics are helpful not only to their clients, but also to the community as a whole.
“People getting clearance of a criminal background and getting some kind of relief, this will enable our community to be able to house more people, to be able to employ more people, and to also we able to make sure that we are taking care of our youth,” said Pittman.
The team is planning more clinics after the holiday season to prepare workers for a job in the new year.
TRENTON, N.C. (WITN) - Christian Faith Assembly in Trenton held a fundraiser Saturday in support of Joel Brown, who’s recovering from his injuries after he saved a pregnant woman from a fire last month.
The fire happened at 702 South Caswell Street in La Grange in September. Brown broke the fall of Ulaysha Southerland, who jumped from the second floor unit in an attempt to escape.
Brown has since been met with bills for his hospital stays, reconstructive surgeries, and medical transportation rides.
His community hoped to take some of his struggles away by accepting donations and selling dinner plates at the church on Saturday.
“I wanted to do something for him,” said event organizer and lifelong friend of Brown Cheryl Ward. “When I heard of his injuries, the extent of his injuries, I said, ‘We have got to do something for him. He’s our hometown hero.’”
Dozens pitched in to cook food, ice down drinks, and serve the plate to others wanting to show their support.
They surprised Brown with the event and the donation.
“It humbles you to know that people realize that I maybe in a point of need and they’re willing to help or just to surprise me to make me feel better,” said Brown. “It’s great.”
Attendees of the fundraiser spoke highly of Brown, saying his behavior on the night of the rescue was not at all out of character.
“When they said it was Jo-Jo that helped the lady when she jumped out of the window, I really wasn’t surprised,” said George Ward with the Christian Faith Assembly. “I thank God that he was at the right place, at the right time.”
Brown says he is healing a bit more everyday and just trying to be the best patient he can be for his wife and two children.
Every story you see here is written, filmed, edited, fronted, and day-turned by Maddie. As an MMJ with WITN, she really does it all!