CHARLOTTE — Scotland High quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe is in serious condition following an ATV accident Tuesday afternoon, sources said Wednesday, but has been taken off a ventilator and is talking and responsive.
Ratliffe, who reportedly suffered brain injuries when the ATV on which he was riding flipped, was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte on Tuesday night. Sources close to the family said Ratliffe was still in a lot of pain Wednesday, as doctors stepped down his medication to better assess any damage to his brain.
An MRI scan performed on Ratliffe Wednesday morning did not show any obvious spinal damage. According to a source, doctors hoped to remove Ratliffe’s neck brace and have him sitting up in bed soon.
Ratliffe’s grandmother Annie McIntyre said Wednesday morning that the family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support shown by the community, from Scotland County teachers and students who have driven to the Charlotte hospital to see Ratliffe, to his fellow teammates, some of whom spent Tuesday night in Charlotte along with coach Richard Bailey.
“… When something happens to one of our brothers or our sisters or our children, this is when we look to Christ and ask him for help but we also ask everyone to keep him in our prayers,” McIntyre said. “We can only wait for the Lord to bring him out of this if it is his will, and I believe that the Lord is going to bring him out … even if he never throws another football, if he can just have his body, with Christ in his soul and can still love people and communicate with them like he does.”
According to source information, Ratliffe and teammate Dakota Holland were riding together though the woods at about 4:30 p.m Tuesday when the driver lost control of the vehicle, causing it to overturn. Sources say it was Holland’s ATV, and Ratliffe was driving the vehicle. The two crashed in some woods near Ratliffe’s home. Both were conscious and alert on the scene, sources said.
Holland was treated and released the same day from Scotland Memorial Hospital. According to a source close to the situation, Holland checked back into Scotland Memorial Wednesday afternoon for another check-up.
McIntyre asked that the community keep Holland in their prayers as well.
“Please don’t forget about him,” she said. “Don’t let today and tomorrow fade him out of your mind. Keep him in prayer.”
Ratliffe, who committed to Georgia Tech last spring, was set to enter his senior season at the school amid high expectations. Scotland has won three consecutive Southeastern conference championships. With Ratliffe at the helm they are the favorites to win another title. Scotland coach Richard Bailey canceled Wednesday’s BCS Championship team event and Thursday’s practice, but still plans to have the first official practice of the year on Friday.
Officials from Georgia Tech have already visited, and prayed over, the rising senior in the hospital, sources say.
Two Southeastern conference coaches have also expressed their concern. Purnell Swett coach Mark Heil said he’s never met Ratliffe, but his reputation as a “first-class gentleman” precedes him.
“My stomach turns for the kid,” Hiel said. “He’s a great, great quarterback but he’s an extremely fine young man too.”
Heil said the coaches and players had a team prayer for Ratliffe on Wednesday. Lumberton coach Mike Setzer hasn’t addressed the accident with his team yet, but plans to.
“You never want to hear about anybody else’s players getting hurt,” Setzer said. “I pray that he has a fast and safe recovery and we’ll keep his family in our prayers.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13. Abbi Overfelt, editor of The Laurinburg Exchange, and Scott Schlaufman, sports editor for The Robesonian, also contributed to this story.