By Joe Johnson
A Winder teen is scheduled to be discharged from the hospital on Saturday, nearly three months after she barely survived a vicious dog attack while walking in her own neighborhood.
Since the July 31 attack, 15-year-old Joslyn Stinchcomb has endured 19 surgeries and has recovered to the point she can return to her home in Winder.
“Day 83 and the best news yet!!” the teen’s grandmother Sandra Stinchcomb posted on Facebook Thursday night. “Yes! She’s going to be discharged.”
When she makes her triumphant return, Joslyn will be greeted by a marching band and throngs of well-wisher lining the streets.
Soon after Sandra posted the good news about her granddaughter, Barrow County Emergency Services, which played a big role in saving the girl’s life, posted the following:
“We have been given some great news and are excited to share that Joslyn is coming home from the hospital on Saturday. This young lady has shown us all how strong and brave she is as she recovers. We are honored to be participating in a parade to bring her home in style. The parade will start around 10:00 AM on Saturday at the Ingles in Auburn. It will travel down Atlanta Highway, in to Winder and turn on to North Broad Street. The parade will finish at Winder First Baptist Church.
“Let’s all line the streets and cheer for this young lady as she comes home. Joslyn you will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers as you continue to heal. We are so glad to have you coming back home to Barrow County.”
Joslyn, who was to start at Winder-Barrow High School as a freshman this year, had hopes of playing flute in the school’s marching band, but due to the dog attack she can now only speak in a whisper.
The attack happened as Joslyn was walking in the neighborhood where she lives with her grandparents, and two pit bulls escaped from a neighbor’s house where they were unsecured and unattended and chased Stinchcomb before bringing her to the ground and viciously mauling her.
Two girls who heard Joslyn’s screams called 911.
According to a Barrow County Sheriff’s report, a deputy who responded to the scene found Joslyn lying face down against a curb, with one dog grabbing her neck and the other biting at the girl’s head.
When the deputy got out of his vehicle, one of the dogs began to approach him and he shot it, according to the report. The wounded dog ran off and the other released its grasp on the girl and also ran away.
The dogs were later located at the owner’s residence and subsequently euthanized. The owner, 29-year-old Alexandria Torregrossa, was arrested for reckless conduct after she returned home, according to the report.
Meanwhile, first responders frantically worked to save the girl’s life. The dogs that attacked Joslyn ripped off her entire scalp, severely damaged her trachea, tore off an ear and bit her all over. Joslyn suffered lacerations all over her face and so much nerve damage was done that it may continue to affect her smile, blinking and other facial expressions.
“We are so grateful to everyone from that day that saved Joslyn’s life from the girls that called 911, dispatch, deputies, paramedics, EMTs, fire, Air Evac, doctors, nurses, etc.” said the girl’s aunt, Charity Stinchcomb Montgomery. “Everyone all worked together in a way that is really remarkable, but just like they should. We are so glad the paramedics were able to intubate Joslyn, as that was very crucial in her still being with us.”
The tube paramedics placed into Joslyn’s airway through her mouth allowed the girl to keep breathing until she was flown by helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where she was placed on a ventilator and underwent 20 hours of surgery to try to repair the extensive damage, with reconstructing her airway to make it viable a top priority.
Doctors at Grady decided it was best to send Joslyn to Egleston Children’s Hospital for more surgery and to begin the long-term planning for her medical care.
During Joslyn’s 12th surgery, an Egleston surgeon was able to locate the girl’s second vocal cord, which initially appeared to be missing.
The prognosis suddenly became much more promising, after the doctor had just days before told family members that Joslyn might never again speak or swallow normally.
The doctor also informed the family that the infection to Joslyn’s head caused by the dirty dog bites was looking better, and began talking about doing skin grafts onto her skull.
Paul Stinchcomb and his wife, Sandra, are Joslyn’s legal guardians, and in the beginning only Sandra was allowed to be in Joslyn’s room due to COVID-19 precautions. At Egleston, Paul was allowed to join Sandra in Joslyn’s room.
The grandparents were brought to tears on Sept. 12, when Joslyn uttered her first words, albeit in a faint whisper, since being attacked.
In a brief video, Joslyn looked into the camera and said, “Thank you for saving my life.”
The video was later played in church for the two Barrow County deputies who came to Joslyn’s rescue.
Joslyn’s aunt, Charity Stinchcomb Montgomery, was spokesperson for her family in the initial days after the dog attack, keeping the community apprised on Joslyn’s condition through posts on the Prayers and Updates for Joslyn Facebook page.
Throughout the ordeal, the family’s faith has been sustained from the support they receive from the community, including individuals, businesses, and groups like motorcycle clubs, and even people from around the world who have offered support through prayer, messages, cards and care packages.
According to a post by Montgomery, “Joslyn still has many obstacles to overcome. The infection being number one, but also the paralysis in her face, skin grafts, emotional scarring, etc.
“However, we feel that she is on her way. She can now cap off her trach and breathe through her mouth and nose, she can eat, she can walk, and can even whisper!” Montgomery said.
“We believe that God is hearing the prayers and must have something special in store for our JBird! So, thank you!” Montgomery said.
The most recent post from the girl’s grandmother came Friday afternoon, in which Sandra Stinchcomb said, “Day 84: First of all let me apologize if you’ve sent me a question or a PM and I haven’t answered. I must admit, I’m a little overwhelmed (in a good way) at the massive response to the news that Joslyn has miraculously and against all odds, already met all the requirements to be able to go home, not just weeks, but months ahead of the original prognosis. (Pardon my southern, but “Ain’t God Good”). In one way it’s hard to believe it’s already been 84 days since this awful attack. In another way, it feels like it’s been years. Some days it’s like my mind is frozen in time. I think it’s still the middle of summer, then I realize it’s half way through fall. Somewhere we lost a whole season. But now it’s time to move forward. To leave hospital life where time not only drags from days to weeks to months, but virtually seems to stand still. We are thankful to Grady, they literally saved Joslyn’s life with their quick skillful surgery. And Egleston has been wonderful in every possible way to help Joslyn through the healing process. (I’ll make a separate post about the special presentation they did last night for Joslyn a little later). But now, we are ready to start the next phase of our life, and as is so like God, He has given Joslyn and I the grace to move fearlessly forward. I’ve always heard that God only gives grace where grace is needed, and I’m seeing that manifested in myself and Joslyn as the fear of returning home has just calmly melted away from both of us. So much is going to be different. Not only for Joslyn, but for our entire family. It seems that in the past 12 weeks just about everything has changed, for us, for my dad and sister, for Charity and Bronson and their kids, pretty much all of us,and we still have more big changes ahead. Some of it is terrifying. Some is heartbreaking. But in all of it, this morning in spite of many things that should be totally shaking me, God has given me what is to me one of His greatest blessings. Peace. Not just peace as the world gives peace. But a deep abiding peace that passes all understanding. The peace that begins with acceptance and surrender to things beyond our control as we give that burden to the Master to carry. Peace that comes from deep within where no matter how upset or anxious this outer person may seem, there is a peace of mind and heart that can’t be shaken.”
Anyone who wishes to donate to help pay for Joslyn's medical expenses may do so at https://paypal.me/pools/c/8rm0RZItmD