Series of miracles takes Auburn student from coma back to college


August 13, 2019


By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Cole Burton says he missed the moments the miracles started happening.

He doesn’t remember the panic that happened around him in rural Calhoun County after a driver lost control and plowed into him and a classmate while they were studying rock formations on the side of the road.

He wasn’t conscious when an ambulance pulled up just seconds after someone called 911 — it was passing by on its way from dropping someone off nearby. 

He wasn’t aware the helicopter that picked him up and took him to UAB Hospital just happened to be in the area because a rainstorm had prevented it from returning to Sylacauga.

And he was still in a coma the day his then pastor, Rob Jackson, and the Burton family gathered around him to pray for the biggest miracle of all.

‘Pretty bleak’

“It looked pretty bleak,” said Jackson, who had served as the Burtons’ pastor at Central Baptist Church, Decatur. “He had massive head trauma and other major injuries.”

The other young man who had been airlifted from the accident died from his injuries. The Burtons had been asked to consider taking their son off  life support, but they felt they shouldn’t, said Charlie Burton, Cole’s dad.

“God impressed upon us that if He didn’t take him at the site of the accident God would make that decision and we didn’t have to,” he said.

They put their son on a feeding tube. He continued to worsen.

“We gathered around him there that night and as we prayed, you could feel the power of God,” Jackson said. 

As they prayed Cole started “storming” — which can be a sign of the brain starting to wake up and control normal body functions.

Jackson said he didn’t want to give the family false hope because he knew that though God was surely capable of a miracle not every story ends with one. But in this case he felt God was healing — and He was. 

It wasn’t long before the young man began improving slowly but surely. They moved from UAB’s intensive care unit to the ICU at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. 

Cole Burton regained consciousness, then began the long journey of learning to eat, talk and walk again. In July 2018 he watched the Peachtree 10k race from a wheelchair as the runners passed by the Shepherd Center. Then this year he ran in it. And this fall he’s returning to school at Auburn University.

“We are the recipients of a miracle,” Charlie Burton said. 

His wife, Tina, agreed.

“God has shown His face,” she said. “We call them little ‘God winks’ that started the day of Cole’s accident. We want people to hear our story and see what God can do.” 

Trusting God

Cole Burton said walking through this has taught him to trust God in ways he never could’ve imagined.

“People who have a lot of schooling in this kind of injury predicted I would not be at this point right now,” he said. “We had to lean completely on our faith. We could’ve told you these things beforehand — that God would get us through — but we hadn’t experienced them before now.”

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