- By Tony Thomas, WSBTV.com
Investigators are considering criminal charges after an argument over a handicap parking space left a Georgia man in critical condition.
Investigators said the 63-year-old grandfather and his wife had just pulled into a handicapped parking spot, when a man in a truck next to them confronted them.
Arguing and shoving followed, then all of a sudden Danny Payne was on the ground. He wasn't breathing and had a severe head injury.
“It's hard to be here because of an altercation, not because of a health issue,” said Payne’s daughter, Sherri Fristch.
Payne has five daughters and all gathered at the hospital where he remains in critical condition. He suffered a severe brain injury and went into cardiac arrest after the Saturday night altercation, doctors said.
“It was over him parking in that handicapped space,” said Payne’s daughter, Shannon Manders. “A verbal altercation started and within seconds my father was on the ground.”
The family said their parents have a handicapped parking sticker and would always hang it on the mirror after they parked.
Investigators said they interviewed the man they call a suspect, but haven't filed any charges because of conflicting witness statements. Ten to 15 people, the sheriff said, saw different parts of what happened.
“Mr. Payne thought that his wife was going to be assaulted, so he was doing the honorable thing and defending his wife, and bless him for that,” said Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith.
Smith said his investigators are trying to determine if a shove or punch caused Payne to fall to the ground. They are asking anyone who might have cell phone video of the altercation in front of the Fatz Restaurant Saturday night to come forward.
“Whatever happened, really, I want the truth,” Fristch said.
“It’s hard to stomach that someone who was just trying to go to dinner was allegedly attacked,” said Payne's daughter, Sandy Edling.
The family said Payne has bleeding on his brain and is, for the most part, unresponsive. His daughters told Thomas they are praying for a miracle.