Boy, 5, bounces back from tailgate tumblePublished 7:33am Friday, July 31, 2009
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
On Wednesday evening, July 15, Pokagon Township Clerk Carrie Sandberg’s 5-year-old son, Adam, was injured in an accident.
Adam, who turned 5 April 1, and his older brother, Austin, were perched on the tailgate of her husband Dan’s truck as they backed down their long drive after dumping the trash.
Adam jumped from the truck. His father ran over him.
Fortunately, Austin yelled at his dad to stop instead of panicking.
“If not, my husband wold have run him over with the front tire also,” Sandberg said Thursday afternoon at Sandy Acres, her grandparents’ farm and feed service on M-51 South.
“I believe God performed a miracle on my son’s body,” Sandberg said. “I truly believe he is a miracle. There were tons of people praying for him.”
“He is home, doing very well, has very little pain and is not even using his walker.”
Actually, what Adam said after using the walker for an hour the first day was, “I don’t need it. You might as well just sell it.”
His injuries, however, were extensive when he flew almost immediately by helicopter to Bronson Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
“They found his spleen ruptured,” his mother said, “a lacerated liver, four broken ribs – one broken in two places, which bruised his lung – and a fractured pelvis. I would like to make families aware of what could happen when children ride on tailgates” – even if they stay on their property and don’t venture out on the highway.
Adam, who attended Dowagiac’s preschool program Inside Track last year, will be home-schooled this fall.
Austin is entering fourth grade at Patrick Hamilton Elementary School, which his mother attended after McKinley Elementary School as a girl. Adam’s and Austin’s sister, Sara, 7, will be in second grade at Patrick Hamilton.
Two weeks and a day after his tumble, Adam doesn’t look any worse for wear.
His main complaint is getting his interview over so he can go home, although he can’t yet get back to favorite summertime activities, such as riding his bike.
Adam can’t even ride in a vehicle except Monday when he returns to the doctor for a progress report.
The private drive alongside the store has been posted with a 5 mph speed limit because children are playing and it has been mistaken for a road.
It leads through pine trees first to her parent’s house and, further back, where they built their house.
“I was watching and he purposely fell” from the tailgate, Austin recalled. “We were going back home” after emptying the trash. “I think Dad was still running over him when I jumped off. I saw what happened.”
“I don’t remember anything,” said Adam, who hasn’t talked much about the incident.
Adam didn’t lose consciousness. In fact, he got up and ran to his father.
“My husband didn’t think he was that hurt,” Sandberg said. “He picked him up and Adam said he wanted to go home and take a bath. He said he was alright and he didn’t really cry, but he said he was getting tired,” then turned completely white.
Dan grabbed the insurance card and raced to the emergency room with their “hero,” Austin, calmly holding his brother and reassuring him.
“I automatically did it” without thinking about scary circumstances, Austin said. On the ride to the hospital, Austin talked to Adam “because he wanted to go to sleep and I was trying to help my dad” keep him awake. “He was awake the whole time.”
Sara and Carrie didn’t witness the accident. “I was at the house,” Sandberg said, “to give her a bath,” after just walking back from her mom’s house.
They apparently crossed each other’s paths in the pines.
“(Dan) called me from the hospital on his cellphone,” Carrie said. “I looked out and my vehicle was gone, so I had wondered what he was doing, if he ran out of gas in the truck. I called my grandparent’s house on my phone because I knew that’s where my mom and dad were. I didn’t get an answer out there so I thought I’d wait a few minutes for them to come back. In the meantime, I tried calling my husband’s cellphone and he wasn’t answering, so I don’t know if he was in the hospital and didn’t take his phone in or what. But then he called me a few minutes later. Everything happened really quick. When I told Sara what happened, she jumped out of the bathtub and started bawling. We ran down the driveway and jumped in my husband’s truck and took off to the hospital. In the meantime, they had already called in CareFlite to take him to Bronson.”
“I think (Dan) was in shock,” Carrie said, because her husband remained composed through the ordeal. He didn’t fall apart until the realization hit of how close tragedy had come when his brother-in-law hugged him at Bronson.
Then emotions overcame him and they clung to each other for several minutes.
Soon, there were no dry eyes at the hospital vigil.
“People should realize it’s not safe for children his age, who are mischievous and rambunctious, in the back of a vehicle. We’ve never gone on a road with them on the tailgate – but I know people who do,” Sandberg said. “You never think it’s going to happen to you – but it does. We were very fortunate and very blessed that it wasn’t more serious or permanent injury.”