(UPDATED) Sen. Garlan Gudger injured in jet ski accident on Smith Lake; prognosis ‘good’

Sen. Garlan Gudger (Alabama Senate)
Sen. Garlan Gudger (Alabama Senate)

Updated July 5, 2024, at 5:08 p.m.

CULLMAN, Ala. – Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, was injured in a jet ski accident on Smith Lake on the afternoon of July 4. He was airlifted to UAB Hospital in Birmingham and is currently in the ICU, but his prognosis is “good,” according to an update from Gudger’s office.

The statement said, “While at UAB, he underwent a brief surgical procedure to address internal bleeding and incurred (sic) other injuries that doctors are monitoring. The two-term senator is currently in the Intensive Care Unit following his surgery, but his physicians indicate that the prognosis for his recovery is good.”

Gudger’s wife, Heather, released the following statement on his behalf Thursday night:

“From the first responders who were quickly on the scene to the members of the helicopter airlift unit to the doctors and nurses at UAB and everyone else who assisted during this accident, we offer our deepest thanks and recognition that each of them kept a difficult situation from being even worse.

“To those across the state who have reached out and lifted up our family with their prayers of mending and comfort, we feel your support and know that God holds Garlan in his healing hands.

“Everyone who knows Garlan is aware that he is a strong, tough, and energetic man who will recover from these injuries and continue serving the citizens of his district while promoting the conservative Alabama values that so many of us hold close.”

On Friday, July 5, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency released details of the incident.

According to ALEA, the incident occurred at approximately 3:15 p.m. Thursday, July 4. The agency said Gudger, 49, was injured when the 2024 Sea-Doo GTI personal watercraft (PWC) he was operating was struck in the rear by a 2019 Sea-Doo GTI PWC operated by his son, Garlan E. Gudger III, 21, of Cullman.

“The collision caused both individuals to be thrown into the water, however, both Gudger Jr., and Gudger III were wearing personal flotation devices (PFDs). Bystanders in the area assisted both individuals out of the water and transported them to a nearby dock. Garlan E. Gudger Jr., was evaluated by local emergency medical services personnel (EMS) and was subsequently transported via helicopter to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Hospital for medical treatment. Garlan E. Gudger III was also evaluated by local EMS personnel but was released at the scene,” said the release from ALEA.

The incident occurred in Little Crooked Creek area (also known as Rock Creek) of Smith Lake near Crane Hill in Cullman County. ALEA said the Crane Hill Volunteer Fire Department and Cullman EMS both responded to the scene and assisted with medical treatment and transport.

Also on Friday, Sen. Gudger’s mother, Dot Gudger, posted an update on her son’s condition to Facebook, writing:

“I just wanted to give an update on Garlan and to tell all of you thank you so much for reaching out to our family. It is wonderful to have praying Christian friends who care about you. I just spoke to his doctor and he is doing remarkably well considering that he was run over by a JetSki!! things that could have happened did not and he is in lots of pain, but I suppose that’s to be expected considering the circumstances. He had surgery on his spleen and the artery to the spleen. He has broken ribs and chipped vertebrae. All of this is causing much pain, especially in his back. They are going to get him up today for Walking and I dread that for him so please pray because it’s going to be very painful. Again, thank all of you and continue to pray for us because that’s what we need right now more than anything.”