Updated: Aug 8, 2020
By Joe Johnson
Doctors have determined the injuries of the Winder girl who was brutally mauled by pit bulls last week are more extensive than originally thought.
Joslyn Stinchcomb, 15, was walking in her Winder neighborhood off of Bowman Mill Road NE the afternoon of July 31 when the dogs chased and viciously attacked her, biting all over the girl’s head and body and ripping off her scalp and an ear.
After being flown to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, the Winder-Barrow High School freshman has undergone 24 hours of surgery to try to repair the extensive damage, with reconstructing her airway to make it viable a top priority, according to family members.
Thursday night, after Joslyn was transferred to Egleston Children’s Hospital, she underwent additional surgery that resulted in bad news for the family.
“Last night the Doctors at Grady decided it was best to send Joslyn over to Egleston to do more surgery and start the long-term planning. So now we are at Egleston and Joslyn is out of surgery again,” the girl’s grandmother and legal guardian, Sandra Stinchcomb, said in a Facebook post.
“The doctors here are amazing but when the lead surgeon holds you and cries with you, unfortunately you know the prognosis is not as good as we had hoped,” the woman said. “Joslyn still has a long way to go for her airway to heal. They did put a better stint in and even gave us pictures of the inside of her airway so we could see exactly what they did and just how much damage, swelling, and scarring we are dealing with.”
The news came two days after the family’s hopes were buoyed when a procedure allowed Joslyn to be taken off a ventilator and was breathing on her own.
“Originally, we were told that hopefully in a month or so the tracheotomy could possibly come out and she would be able to try to eat and speak. The surgery today was to place a new stint with the plan for it to stay in place at least 4 more weeks to keep the airway from closing, and hopes of removing the tracheotomy shortly afterward. However, now they are saying it could be months, years, or possibly not ever that her tracheotomy can be removed,” Sandra said. “They are not certain if she will ever talk again and even if she does, her voice won’t be the same. At this point I can only hold onto faith and hope ...so at times like these I pray and hope God really shows up and shows out.”
Sandra, a former EMT who had seen severe trauma in the past, said she was unprepared to see pictures of injuries to Joslyn’s skull that doctors showed to her.
“No words can describe just how horrific they are,” she said. “With this, we are being told it could be several months before she will be ready to see if they can try to get skin grafts to take. Right now Paul (Sandra’s husband and Joslyn’s grandfather) and I are just broken. Our girl is still in so much need of continuous fervent prayer for both her physical and emotional trauma that is so far from being over, and will never really be absent from her life.
"Nothing I have ever seen, in EMT school or on any horror movie is as disturbing and graphic as seeing what these demons did to Joslyn,” the girl’s grandmother said.
Sandra ended her post with a message to Joslyn’s many well-wishers: “Again, thank you all for the prayers, love, and support you have given us during this time. Please to continue to pray for Joslyn’s recovery and for her medical teams.”
All of the injuries Joslyn sustained were from two pit bulls who escaped from a neighbor's house.
When a Barrow County sheriff’s deputy arrived, the attack was still in progress, with one dog having Joslyn’s neck clenched in its jaws and the other grabbing the girl by the hair, completely ripping off her scalp, according to a sheriff’s incident report. One of the girl’s ears was also torn off.
The deputy shot one of the dogs, at which time both ran back to the owner’s house where they were later captured and subsequently euthanized.
The owner, 29-year-old Alexandria Torregrossa, was arrested for reckless conduct for leaving the dogs unsecured and unattended.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sandra Stinchcomb had been the only family member allowed to stay in Joslyn’s room at Grady Memorial. She noted in a Facebook post that nearly every time Joslyn would wake up, she’d mouth the words “I want Papa,” meaning her grandfather, and she cried when told he wasn’t allowed in her room.
At Egleston, two family members are allowed in the girl’s room, and Joslyn was finally able to see Paul Stinchcomb when recovering from surgery Thursday night.
Joslyn’s aunt, Charity Stinchcomb Montgomery, who has provided regular updates on her niece's condition via Facebook posts, said that her family has been overwhelmed by the amount of support and prayers from the community.
A large group of people gathered earlier this week for a prayer group outside the house where Joslyn lives with her grandparents.
The girl’s cousin, Hope Stinchcomb, is organizing another prayer gathering for 6 p.m. today on the baseball field at Victor Lord Park at 82 Maynard St. in Winder.
Anyone wanting to donate to help pay for Joslyn's medical expenses may do so at https://paypal.me/pools/c/8rm0RZItmD