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Graham grad faces long recovery

Austin Thornton in Dayton rehab unity after crowbar attack.


A Graham High School graduate is recovering in a Miami Valley hospital after he was attacked with a crowbar in northern Ohio late last month.

Austin Thornton, 19, is able to walk but suffered some brain damage after an attack so brutal that doctors had to remove parts of his skull as they tried to save his life. He is being treated at the Dayton Rehabilitation Institute.

As they sped toward a Toledo hospital, his parents believed he may have been in a car wreck but soon learned he had been beaten, suffering injuries to his torso and then his head.

“It broke my heart,” said his mother, Angela Thornton. “It devastated me, and I couldn’t fathom why somebody would do this to my son. Austin is a great kid.”

Authorities said the attack occurred in Willard, Ohio, where Austin was visiting friends. The incident appears to have begun because of a dispute about a woman.

Tyler Smith, 19, of Bellevue, is facing a charge of attempted murder. Connor Holbrook, 19, also of Bellevue, faces a charge of felonious assault, and authorities have said both men could be in court as early as Monday.

Thornton, a 2012 graduate of Graham, will face a long recovery, his mother said. She stayed by his side for weeks as her son clung to life at the Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.

“The doctor came out and said that he possibly could not make it through this,” Angie Thornton said of her son. “And if he does, he will have some brain damage, and he does.”

Thousands of people have visited Austin Thornton’s Facebook page, where they left their prayers for his family.

“He’s weak, but he’s recovering,” Angie Thornton said. “And recovering well.”


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