Disabled woman learns to drive again

Image 1 of 4

Delorean "Bean" Williams is ready to roll, getting behind the wheel for the first time in more than a decade.

"At first, I didn't want to do it. It was something that wasn't in my plans," says the 30-year old.

But plans change.  After more than a decade of relying of family and friends to drive her around, the soft- spoken Lawrenceville woman wants to be able to drive herself.

"Because it will provide more independence for myself," she says.

And it's Matt Abisamra's job to get Bean comfortable behind the wheel.  He's a occupational therapist with Shepherd Center's assistive technology center, helping people with spinal cord injuries learn to drive with the help of adaptive equipment.

"It's everything. It's kind of the last step in people's rehab. It's true independence," says Abisamra.

Today, Matt is evaluating Bean to make sure she's comfortable using her hands instead of her feet to brake and accelerate, and controlling the modified steering wheel.

"It's just going to provide quiet alone time. Independence. It's just the greatest feeling in the world," says Williams.

It's an emotional moment.  The last time Bean drove was in February of 2004, before she was critically-injured. She was 17-years old at the time, and had come to Atlanta from Mississippi to study fashion.

One night, Walking to a concert downtown," Bean" and a friend were both hit accidently by a bullet.  It tore through her friend's arm, and hit Bean in the neck, instantly paralyzing her. Stabilized at Grady Memorial Hospital, Bean spent 6 months at Shepherd Center. She's back now, hoping to get back out on the road.

"It felt the same. It was just something I was ready to do.  There is no better feeling than driving for yourself. Doing things for yourself."

For now, Bean needs practice.  Matt, can take over, if needed.

But Bean seems to have this.

"She's doing really good.  The hand control she's using is pretty sensitive and she's really smooth with it. We're not bouncing around the vehicle or anything," says Abisamra.

After her road evaluation,  Bean will, now, be all set to take her official road test in a few weeks. It's the beginning of the new Bean.

"It feels amazing.  It feels. That's about the only word for it, is amazing."