KENNESAW, Ga. — It was Mariellen Jacobs worst nightmare as a mother.
“They [doctors] did a CT scan and discovered that he had a massive skull fracture in the back of his head,” she explained.
“During his stay at the hospital over time he developed a bleed and they ended up having to do brain surgery to save his life. It was just surreal.”
She says the surgeon told her that her son, Clark, might not make it through brain surgery. In 2015, Clark was fighting for his life after he fell out of his 7-foot loft in his Georgia Tech dorm room.
“I was shaking in a walker. Trying to swallow water and speaking in sentences but very unclearly,” he explained.
11Alive first brought you Clark’s story back in 2017.
“When you walk into that college dorm your freshman year you’re like that’s where I’m sleeping cool. You’re not like is my bed safe,” Clark said.
He spent two months in a coma and went through a grueling recovery.
This experience motivated Clark and his mom to help educate families and start pushing for legislation to mandate safety rails on all college beds. Together, they started Rail Against the Danger, also known as RAD.
“It’s been under the radar for far too long and it needs to be out in the bright open light,” Mariellen said back in 2017.
That same year, colleges and universities statewide started offering safety rails free of charge. Today, they are still working for safety rails to become standard.
“My ultimate goal is really to keeping plugging,” Mariellen said.
“I’m trying to work with furniture manufactures that the tide is kind of turning towards the number is going up of people in schools asking for rails.”
Clark continues to work towards his degree at Georgia Tech. He says he still faces physical challenges, but that it doesn’t stop the work to help others.
“It takes incredible stamina and drive to get through what he’s gotten through,” said Mariellen.
Clark and Mariellen are volunteers at the Shepherd Center and often speak with families with loved ones dealing with brain injuries.