Last June, Milton firefighter Antonio Pickens was struck by a drunken driver as he tried to help victims of an auto accident across from his fire station. Today, after nearly being taken off of life support, he needs around-the-clock care. The driver who hit him, C.W. Tolbert of Stoughton, will spend about two years in jail.

Some days, Marilyn Pickens comes home from a hard day at work and just wants her husband back.


But Pickens’ husband Antonio, a 12-year-veteran of the Milton Fire Department, hasn’t been the same since last June when he was struck by a twice-convicted drunken driver. Pickens had run out to help victims of a minor car accident across from the fire station on Route 138.


“He’s still not my husband,” Marilyn Pickens said, stressing that she is grateful he is alive. “He’s still not the Antonio that I married.”


The driver of the black Buick LeSabre that hit him, C.W. Tolbert of Stoughton, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Norfolk Superior Court and was sentenced to three years in jail. With credit for time already served, Tolbert will be in jail for about two years. His previous drunken driving convictions came in 1999 and 2004.


Tolbert, 47, will be on probation for five years and won’t be able to drive legally for at least eight years. Prosecutor Gregory Connor had recommended a state prison sentence of five to seven years. Judge Janet Sanders ruled the accident an example of carelessness, not violence.


Marilyn Pickens did not want to comment on Tolbert’s sentence.


The impact sent Pickens flying 100 feet across the intersection, partially severing his right arm, breaking both legs and crushing his chest. An artery in his left leg was severed, causing massive blood loss.


After the crash, Pickens did not get blood to his brain for 20 minutes, resulting in extensive brain damage.


Pickens, who has a teenage son and daughter, was hospitalized for nearly six months before being sent home to Brockton in December. He was initially not expected to survive, and his wife was given the choice to take him off life support. He can now hold slow, short conversations.


Pickens said surgeries on her husband’s hand, wrist, arm and legs have set him back. He receives around-the-clock nursing care.


“He’s come a long way, but he still has a mighty long way to go,” she said.


In May, Milton town meeting members authorized borrowing $300,000 to help pay Pickens’ medical and hospital expenses.


“This whole thing has just been a tough pill to swallow,” Marilyn Pickens said. “He’s still hanging in there.”


Allison Manning is at amanning@ledger.com.