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Former Buford athlete undergoes spinal surgery after wreck

Devin Durden

Devin Durden

Former standout Buford football player Devin Durden, the oldest of Wolves head girls basketball coach Gene Durden’s four children, was severely injured in a motorcycle accident Wednesday near the Mall of Georgia.

Durden suffered numerous injuries, including a compound fracture of his femur, but doctors are most concerned about injuries to his spine. The spinal cord wasn’t severed, which gives the family hope, but paralysis from the waist down is still a worry.

The 21-year-old, in the ICU at Gwinnett Medical Center, underwent major spinal surgery late Thursday afternoon to determine the extent of the damage.

“(Paralysis) is definitely a concern,” Gene Durden said Thursday morning.

The accident occurred on Ga. Highway 20 near the intersection of Gravel Springs Road as Durden was on his way to eat with his brother, according to Gene Durden, who said a car pulled out in front of his son around 2 p.m.

According to a preliminary report released by Gwinnett County police, Devin Durden was traveling southbound when the 18-year-old female driver of a Chevrolet Trail Blazer attempted to turn left into a shopping center at 3350 Ga. Highway 20, crossing the southbound lanes. The two vehicles collided, police said.

Police do not believe alcohol or drugs to be a factor. Spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said Thursday that no charges had been filed in the crash.

Surgery was done Wednesday night to repair Durden’s broken femur, which has been stabilized. He also has a broken nose, a severely injured thumb, a gashed tendon in his foot, collapsed lungs and other injuries and abrasions.

“They took care of (the femur) and it’s stable, but the main issue is his spine,” Gene Durden said.

Durden, a 2009 Buford grad, was a key player on the Wolves’ 2007 and 2008 state championship football teams. A three-time scholar-athlete in high school, he went to the Air Force Academy, where he played three years of football as a tight end. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder returned home recently and had enlisted in active duty, his father said.

The accident is the latest in a tragic time for the Buford community. Beloved coach Ryan Daniel died in January after collapsing during a pick-up basketball game and less than two weeks ago popular student Adam Smith passed away after he collapsed after a basketball practice.

“The Buford community has been unbelievable in this situation,” Gene Durden said. “They have supported our family in every way possible. So many of our friends all over the state and out of state, college coaches and high school coaches, have been great. People all the way back from our Dade County days have been so supportive.”