by Lisa Tome
Billy Church, Jr. has no memory of the events of July 8 except that he ate dinner with his parents at their Rising Sun area home earlier in the evening.
He doesn't remember his ride in a Maryland State Police helicopter, being treated at Shock Trauma, or being transported to Kernan Rehabilitation Center.
He has no recollection of driving in downtown Rising Sun and striking the SP Discount store with his SUV.
Church wasn't drunk or under the influence of illegal narcotics.
"I haven't had a beer in 13 years. When I go out, I don't drink. Never in my life have I done drugs. I don't need it," said Church.
About 20 years ago, he was diagnosed with epilepsy.
He said that shortly before the accident, his medication was changed.
He believes that may have caused the seizure which led to the accident.
"I feel sad that it happened and I'm glad to be alive," said Church, from his downtown Rising Sun home last week.
This wasn't the first time that Church had an accident and subsequently lost his driver's license. Back in 1998, he was also in an accident due to his neurological impairment. He has worked to keep his disorder in check. In 2005, he had brain surgery - a right temporal lobectomy, in hopes of elininating the seizures.
Church has been battling seizures for more than 20 years.
Two years after graduating from Rising Sun high school, in 1992, he began having seizures. He was diagnosed with epilepsy three years later. He has been treated at several hospitals and is currently being treated at Johns Hopkins by a neurologist.
"My parents have been driving me there and I feel so bad for them," said Church.
His neurological problem and lack of driver's license has sidelined his career. He has been a certified auto mechanic and graduated from Cecil County School of Technology's automotive technology program. He also went to Delaware Technical School, continuing his studies.
He works as a mechanic and restores classic cars. He has worked at several area businesses honing his craft.
Now, Church is collecting disability. He doesn't like it.
"I'd rather go out and work and make the money. I love working," he said.
As of last week, Rising Sun Police have not charged Church with any crime.
Police Chief Chip Peterson said since the accident was due to a medical condition, Church is not facing charges from the town. The matter was referred to the Office of the State's Attorney, which also has not levied charges.
During the accident, which occurred shortly after 9 p.m. on July 8, Church was driving near Center Square when his SUV struck a railing and a fire hydrant before hitting the SP Discount store. The vehicle caught fire, which was extinguished by Rising Sun police officer Adam Dominick. Church, who sustained a head injury, was extricated from the vehicle and flown to Shock Trauma. He went to rehabilitation and is now working to heal. (Click to view pictures from the crash.)
Church said he has spoken to both Chief Peterson and Officer Dominick following the crash. He said both men were kind to him and wished him well. "The chief said I'm lucky to be here," said Church.
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