I first blogged about Walt Horton last June in a post called Not what it seems. Walt is the young man I didn’t know what to make of at the time. I took his picture in Asheville while he pretended to be sleeping. He told me he was homeless, but I didn’t know if he was telling me the truth or hustling me for a few bucks. It turns out he was doing both. When I photograph someone I don’t know, I usually give them a card and offer to send them a pic if they send me an email. So it was with Walt. He saw the blog post, which he enjoyed, and contacted me. After he put a link to the post on his Facebook page, I also heard from some of his friends who wrote to confirm that he actually is homeless and to tell me what a good guy he is. As you regular readers know, I spend a fair amount of time in Asheville, so I looked him up and we became friends over pizza. He was living on the street, and had his share of troubles, but was much better at being homeless than I gave him credit for in my first post. I found Walt to be smart, witty, and a good guy, just like his friends said. We kept in touch and I saw him from time to time when I was in Asheville. He was one of the people who helped me shoot the Faces of the 99% portraits that I posted on October 15th. The photo of Walt shown above was taken in June and the picture below was taken on the 15th when I shot the faces.
Tuesday afternoon I got a call from a kind Asheville police officer, who tracked me down because he knows I am a friend of Walt’s. He informed me that Walt had been struck by a car late Saturday night and is hospitalized in critical condition. I was able to speak with his mother, who lives in Florida, and is not able to come to Asheville. No one in his family is in a position to offer any help to Walt, not because they don’t want to, but because they are simply unable to, so I will do what I can. A nurse in the ICU told me his injuries are survivable, but at best, he is in for a long, difficult recovery. First he has to regain consciousness. They are keeping him sedated so he can recover from his head injuries. He has had multiple surgeries on his legs (both are badly broken) with more to come. Depending on his condition and needs, I may set up an account for his benefit and ask for donations, but it is too early for that at this time. I’ll let you know.