A 4-year-old boy from New Fairview who was horribly injured after being run over by a riding lawn mower in a tragic accident Friday, March 23, has lost his leg.
His father, Jason Carter, confirmed that the boy’s left leg had to be amputated the same day he was admitted to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. It was a 12-hour procedure. He’s had to go through multiple surgeries, but he has been moved out of intensive care.
The boy had been riding on the mower with his grandfather, Louis W. Carter, 57, just one of the many things they’ve done together for years. The boy hopped down. At that point it’s unclear what happened. They’re not sure if the boy stopped to pick something up or just look at something, but when the grandfather spun around a moment later on the zero-turn mower, his grandson was right there behind him. He couldn’t see him, and the boy was pulled underneath the mower and into the spinning blades.
The grandfather called 911 and attempted to heave the mower off the child. He injured his back severely in the process.
“My dad might never walk again,” Carter said. “He blew out two lower discs and crushed five vertebrae trying to pick the mower up.”
After blowing out his back, the grandfather then crawled to the neighbor’s door for help.
“My dad crawled all the way around the house on his belly and started banging on the front door of the neighbor he was mowing grass for to get help,” Carter said. “If it wasn’t for my dad, he would not be alive.”
It was actually a blessing he was not able to lift the mower.
“An artery in the leg was completely severed,” Carter said. “If dad had gotten the mower off of him he would of bled to death before the ambulance got there.”
It took three emergency responders to lift the mower off the trapped and bleeding boy.
Efforts by the boy’s grandfather and first responders, including paramedics and firefighters, are the only reason his son survived, Carter said.
His son has shown tremendous strength throughout the ordeal, and he’s thankful for everyone’s prayers.
He added that the boy’s grandfather, his father, also needs prayers as he is overcome with grief over the accident.
Carter said his father and his son have always been inseparable. Since the child’s mother lives elsewhere, the grandfather is with the child every day.
“Since he was six months old there hasn’t been a day go by they haven’t spent together,” Carter said. “They get up at 7 a.m. and eat breakfast, and then they go running all day. My dad’s life revolves around my son.
“From when I go to work until I get home, he’s with my dad. He’s his best friend. I couldn’t of dreamed of my dad and my son having such a great relationship.”
Shriners Hospital has informed the family they will help provide the boy with a prosthetic leg. Shriners Hospitals for Children has designed and provided thousands of prosthetics to children. The hospital regularly replaces them as children grow.
FIRST RESPONDERS PLAY CRUCIAL ROLE
Carter said he couldn’t be more impressed with the professionalism and the compassion employed by the first responders at the accident, including Wise County medics and volunteers with East Wise Fire Rescue.
“They went above and beyond,” Carter said.
“Anytime we have a patient, no matter the severity, I try to treat the patient like I would want one of my family members treated,” said paramedic Nate Mara. “We’re just one link in the chain, with the firefighters and the helicopter crew.”
The medics and firefighters have been keeping up with the condition of the boy.
“Anytime you have to go to a severe call, especially with a child, you want to follow up and find out how they are doing,” said Wise County paramedic Brandon Sutter. “One of the nice things about working out here is that you are able to. I’ve worked in big cities and for big systems, and you’re not able to do that as easily.”
EMT Jerry Taylor said despite the severity of the situation, the teams couldn’t have handled it much better.
“There was such a calm demeanor when we got there,” Taylor said. “We couldn’t have worked it out much better if it was being drawn up in a training room.”
Lawn mower injuries near epidemic levels
Although the tragedy sounds like it should be a rare accident, it’s a lot more common than people might think.
“The statistics on childhood amputations caused by lawn mower accidents are shocking,” said Kendra Calhoun, president and CEO of Amputee Coalition.
She said more than 600 children undergo mower-related amputations each year, and that major limb loss for children under the age of 10 is most commonly caused by lawn mowers.
The Amputee Coalition reports lawn mower-related injuries account for more than 51 percent of traumatic amputations among children.
“Lawn mower accidents where a child loses a limb are not uncommon,” said Sue Stout, Public Policy Director with the Amputee Coalition. “These are such tragic accidents because it almost always is a parent or grandparent, and the kid thinks it will be fun to ride with them. And it is until something happens.”
The coalition encourages that children under 12 never be allowed to ride or even be near a mower, even if it is turned off.
“Although these accidents are so awful and tragic, they also provide an opportunity to prevent other accidents like this from happening,” Stout added.
The Amputee Coalition offers several safety guidelines:
- Never allow children to play on a lawn mower, even if it is turned off;
- Never allow a child to ride on a riding lawn mower with you;
- Keep your children indoors and do not allow other children to play nearby while you are mowing; and
- Children should be 12 years of age or older before operating any lawn mower and at least 16 years old to operate a riding mower.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 253,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010. Almost 17,000 of those occurred to children 18 years old and younger. Lawn mower-related injuries are up 3 percent since 2009.
The coalition reports there are 2 million people living with limb loss in the United States. Main causes for loss are vascular disease (54 percent), trauma (45 percent) and cancer (less than 2 percent). Approximately 185,000 amputations occur in the United States every year.
April happens to be National Limb Loss Awareness Month, and there are numerous resources where people dealing with limb loss can find support. There are hundreds of amputee support groups across the nation, including one in Decatur. Amputees in Motion (AIM) meets at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month at the board room of Fit-N-Wise in Wise Regional Health System located in Decatur. For more information on AIM, call Tammy Myers at (903) 746-5091.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 235,000: People treated for lawn mower-related injuries in 2010
- 17,000: Number of children 18 and under treated for lawn mower injuries in 2010
- 600: Number of children who undergo a lawn mower-related amputation every year
- 51: Percentage of amputations for children under the age of 10 that are caused by lawn mower injuries
- 185,000: Amputations that occur in the United States every year
- 45: Percent that are trauma related
- 2,000,000: People living with limb loss in the United States
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It speaks to a person’s character as to how they speak of their parents. It is wonderful how this man speaks of his father, and the love his father has for his son and grandson. I know that this family is going to have a tough row to hoe, but they will be fine. That’s character. Please let us, as a community, know if we can do anything to help. Bless you.
Praying for the little boy and his grandfather. This story breaks my heart.
Karen Mitchum Faulkner
Lots of love, prayers and wishes for recovery sent to this family. My nephew is 4 and fascinated with the lawn mower. It could have happened to any of us. I am truly moved by this and so want everything to work in their favor from here on!
What a traffic accident. Our prayers are with the family and with the grandfather; he did a heroic act
I only ask to have future accidents like this from happening. Poor thing! What a tough little boy. Prayers for the family and him.
Tragic. God bless that little boy. An accident can happen to anyone.
Prayers for the little boy & his grandpa (and family) for strength and healing. God bless them both!
Missy Kennemer Stephens
Kim Cordell Harris
I hope the little boy is going to be OK and I know the grandfather has got to be sick over the ordeal. Prayers to all!!
Ronda Wofford Marshall
Praying for healing for the boy, but also praying for that grandfather! Can’t imagine the horror he’s going through!
Diane Sumner Barnes
Dang, that’s really horrible. Nightmare for everyone involved.