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Happy homecoming for paralyzed hit-and-run victim Amanda Barnes

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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With a feeling of freedom, Amanda Barnes has returned home to Auburn. Barnes, a 22-year-old Auburn native paralyzed in a hit-and-run crash July 12, was greeted by a giant “Welcome Home” sign above her family’s garage door and found that volunteers had worked feverishly during the previous weeks to ensure the 2007 Placer High grad would feel comfortable. While Barnes praised the care she received both at the Alameda County Medical Center in Oakland and San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center, she said she was happy to say goodbye to disruptions like middle-of-the-night condition checks. “I feel free,” Barnes said. “There, I couldn’t go outside without a therapist. And there are no more waking up in the middle of the night to take my vitals.” But Barnes said she was grateful for all the hospital staff did. “I wouldn’t be able to come here without them,” Barnes said. Barnes celebrated her return Thursday as the center of attention at a barbecue her family held to thank Home Depot volunteers led by 74-year-old John Butterfield. The North Auburn store provided much of the materials to install a railed ramp for Barnes at the house and an enlarged shower area. Others ripped out carpeting to install wood floors for Barnes to wheel her wheelchair around on. Debbie Ward, Barnes’ mother, said work is already underway to tear out a rear deck and install a new one at inside floor levels to allow her daughter the freedom to move outside the North Auburn house. “We’re grateful to everybody who has helped, including people at my work (Sutter Roseville) who collected almost $2,000,” Ward said. Barnes has enjoyed her newly revived freedom of movement by shopping and visiting the Gold Country Fair. “I couldn’t be more grateful and blessed,” Barnes said. “I’m grateful for what I have. I’ve lost the use of my legs but have a lot of love in my life and a lot of people who care for me.” Moving out of a hospital room into a home still has its challenges. Barnes, an artist whose paintings hang throughout the house, said that she’s still adjusting to smaller spaces and hasn’t taken her paints out. “But it is exciting to come home finally,” Barnes said.