7-month-old seriously injured in distracted driving crash, mother says

Mother says distracted driver to blame for head-on crash that severely injured 7-month-old son

ATLANTA — A head-on crash with a distracted driver in Southwest Atlanta left a 7-month-old boy with serious injuries and a potential lifelong disability, his mother said.

Nolan Bennett broke every bone in his neck during the crash that caused his mother's car to spin several times before it ended up on a sidewalk, according to his mother. Witnesses say the driver of the 2018 Toyota Camry that collided with the woman's car admitted he was using his phone in the moments leading up to the May 18 crash.

"As I'm coming around the corner," said Ceann Copeland, the baby's mother, "he's coming full speed toward me and hit me head-on."

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Copeland says she had just dropped her 6-year-old son off at West Manor Elementary School about 7:30 a.m. when the other driver veered into her lane on Lynhurst Drive and caused the crash. The crash caused her car to spin three times and the impact injured her youngest son's neck and spine while he sat in a car seat, she said.

"My first instinct when I opened my eyes was my baby," Copeland said. "I jumped in the back and my baby was bleeding."

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Copeland and the other driver had minor injuries, witnesses said. Nolan had the most severe injuries and remains at a local hospital after multiple surgeries to repair his neck and spine, his mom said. The 7-month-old will not be allowed to play contact sports and is not expected to develop full movement in his neck, according to his mother.

"He will have that disability but that's not going to stop him," she said. "He may end up becoming a doctor or a lawyer.”

Witnesses who live near where the crash happened told Channel 2 Action News the 20-year-old driver admitted he was using his phone prior to the crash.

Nolan's mother says she's not angry with him, but hopes that what happened to her baby will not happen to another one.

“Stop talking and driving and put the phone down sometimes,” said Copeland. “On my phone right now, I have Do Not Disturb when I’m in the car.”

Atlanta police are investigating but were unable to pull up the report with charges for the suspect due to the Memorial Day holiday.