• Fight over handicapped space leaves grandfather with brain injury, officials say

    By: Ellen Eldridge, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


    A Barrow County man is in an Athens hospital with a traumatic brain injury after a fight over a handicapped parking spot, officials say

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    Danny Payne and his wife had just pulled into a Fatz Cafe parking space Saturday night, when a man in a truck next to them confronted them, Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith told Channel 2 Action News

    Witnesses told police the man was upset with how close the 63-year-old parked to his car and asked whether Payne had a permit to park in the handicapped space.

    When Payne’s wife exchanged words with the man, Payne stepped out to defend her, Smith told the news station.

    “I think this guy came towards him and there was a shoving match and a hit,” Smith said. “We are still trying to determine if it was a punch or a shove.”

    Whatever caused the fall, the father and grandfather stumbled back and hit his head, the sheriff said.

    Payne wasn't breathing once he was on the ground.

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    Now, his daughters are praying for their dad’s recovery and video of the argument that shows exactly what happened.

    “We are waiting, every day we are just waiting for everything to change,” daughter Sherri Fritsch said. “He’s only responding to the pinch test.”

    Investigators don’t currently have enough information to determine whether criminal charges should be filed, Channel 2 reported.

    Anyone with information or footage of the fight is asked to contact the sheriff’s office.

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