Atlanta man nearly beaten to death near popular bar making big strides in recovery

ATLANTA — For the first time, Channel 2 Action News is hearing from a man who was found brutally beaten and unconscious behind a popular Buckhead nightclub.

Joshua Dowd suffered a severe brain injury on July 11 and spent several weeks in the hospital, where he nearly died. Channel 2′s Michael Seiden was in Buckhead, where he’s been following Dowd’s recovery.

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His doctors are calling it a medical miracle. Less than six months ago, friends and family gathered at Grady Memorial Hospital to say their final goodbyes.

On July 11, surveillance video captured Joshua and a group of friends leaving the Heretic Bar in Atlanta, a popular gay night club off Cheshire Bridge Road. Hours later, he was found badly beaten and barely breathing on the train tracks.


Josh’s partner, Colin Kelly, who has been by his side since the attack, said Dowd suffered a severe brain injury.

“They said he wasn’t going to make it and if he did, he would be a in a total vegetative state, and basically in a nursing facility for the rest of his life,” Dowd said.

Dowd has no memory of what happened that night and his attacker remains a mystery.

But recent videos recorded inside the Shepherd Center give a glimpse of the progress he has made.

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“Thank you to everyone that helped,” Dowd said in a recent video. “It means so much to us because this sucks.”

Dowd was released from the Shepherd Center just before Christmas. He’s now a patient at Shepherd Pathways, an outpatient program with daily therapy.

Kelly said he has about another six weeks of physical therapy and then he will start to really work on walking and talking again on his own.

“I think about how hard it must be to relearn literally everything needed to survive and I almost get overwhelmed thinking about having to do it myself ‚” Kelly said. “And then I see Josh and how much he’s done in such a short journey period of time, and I’m blown away how fast and how far he’s come .”

Dowd’s mother has moved from North Carolina to help out her son. She and Kelly are hopeful Dowd can get back to doing everything on his own soon.

A GoFundMe set up to cover his medical expenses has raised more than $150,000.