It was a long time coming for Joslyn Stinchcomb and her family. But after 19 surgeries over nearly three gut-wrenching months, the Winder teen is back home.
Stinchcomb, 15, who was brutally attacked by two pit bulls July 31, was released Saturday, Oct. 24, from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Egleston and welcomed back to Barrow County with a large parade Saturday morning. Led by an escort from local public safety agencies, the parade began at the Ingles on Atlanta Highway in Auburn, traveled into Winder, turned onto North Broad Street and ended in the parking lot of First Baptist Church of Winder, passing hundreds of community members with signs of support along the way. In the church parking lot, as Stinchcomb sat in a fire truck, Winder First Baptist and Jackson County Baptist Church pastors Chad Mantooth and Matt Booher gave prayers and words of encouragement for the family.
“Thank you all for the hundreds that lined the road from Auburn to Winder. We love and thank you all,” Joslyn’s grandfather, Paul Stinchcomb, wrote on Facebook. “Thank you for all the bikers from several groups and jeepers from all over north Georgia that helped us welcome ‘J’ home.”
"We were thrilled to see Joslyn come home from the hospital and were honored to participate in the parade to welcome her home," BCES chief Alan Shuman said. "Her recovery is incredible and to see this brave young lady fight like she has is inspirational. We will continue to keep her in our thoughts and prayers as she continues her recovery. It was also incredible to see the support and love shown by the great community of Barrow County."
The Stinchcombs’ world was turned upside down late in the afternoon of July 31. Joslyn, as her family said she loved to do, was walking through her neighborhood off Bowman Mill Road in Winder and listening to music when two pit bulls that had escaped from a neighboring house and jumped her, tearing off her scalp and left ear and causing severe facial, throat and neck damage. A neighbor reported hearing screams and called 911, and responding sheriff’s deputies were able to shoot one of the dogs and scare them away.
Both dogs were later captured and euthanized, and their owner was arrested and charged with reckless conduct and violations of the county’s animal control ordinance. An investigation determined that the dogs had escaped through a door that had been left open. There had been no previously reported incidents of aggression from the dogs, according to the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office.
Since the attack, county officials have been working on proposed changes to the county’s animal control ordinance aimed at trying to prevent similar attacks from happening in the future as much as possible. Officials are expected to present recommended ordinance changes to the county board of commissioners at an upcoming meeting, though they would also require a public hearing.
After the attack, Joslyn was life-flighted to Grady Memorial Hospital for emergency life-saving surgery and was later transferred to Egleston, where she remained for nearly three months, with Sandra and Paul Stinchcomb, her grandparents and legal guardians, by her side.
Joslyn suffered extensive nerve damage to her face and paralysis on the left side and has had 19 surgeries to address some of the damage, repair her trachea and replace her scalp. She had a successful skin graft procedure on Oct. 16, according to her grandparents, and is able to now talk without a trach.
Joslyn’s story has garnered statewide, national and even international attention, and a Facebook page ran by her family, “Prayers and updates for Joslyn,” now has more than 26,100 followers.
Prior to the attack, Joslyn was preparing to begin her freshman year at Winder-Barrow High School and was eagerly looking forward to her first year with the school’s marching band. The band has dedicated its season to her.
A PayPal account — https://paypal.me/pools/c/8rm0RZItmD — set up by a family member to help the family cover medical expenses — has received thousands of dollars in donations, and other fundraisers are being coordinated by local groups and businesses.
Those who aren’t able to donate but would like to offer their well wishes can send cards to P.O. Box 1502, Winder, GA 30680.
“…Although this has been the hardest thing we’ve ever gone through, it has also been a journey that has strengthened our faith and brought us love, encouragement and prayers from people not only all over our community and state, but from countries all over the world,” Sandra Stinchcomb wrote on the Facebook update page Oct. 20. “We are humbled and thankful for each one of you.”