Media Archive

Welcome home, Andrew

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 27, July 02, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Observer Photo/Jessica Lee
HOME, AT LAST Crystal, Andrew and Bill Gallant enjoy time in the yard at their Brownville Junction home Tuesday &Mac247; a month after a lawn mower accident sent Andrew to Boston Children's Hospital.

BROWNVILLE After a month-long stay in hospitals in Boston and Bangor, the family of a toddler injured by a riding lawn mower accident returned home Friday.

And the lawn mower was gone.

"The monster is gone," said Crystal Gallant, the mother of two-year-old Andrew,with a smile that belies a parent's nervousness.

An anonymous neighbor took the lawn mower and has volunteered to mow the family's lawn on the Davis Road throughout the summer. The Gallants will be reimbursed for the cost of the mower. It's one reason of many illustrating why the family wants to give a public thanks to their community.

The May 27 accident occurred when Andrew toddled around a tree and slipped on freshly-mown grass, sliding under his father's riding lawn mower. While Bill Gallant did see something out of the comer of his eye, and intuitively stopped the mower, gravity didn't stop the blades soon enough- Andrew curled into a fetal position under the blades where he received serious injuries to his right leg and arm.

Mayo Regional Ambulance, Three Rivers Ambulance and Life-Flight responded to the accident. Andrew was treated initially by his parents: his father Bill is a certified surgical technologist at Eastern Maine Medical Center, and then tfansported to Boston Children's Hospital.

After 12 days in Boston, the family was moved to EMMC in Bangor for follow-up care. On Friday, after 17 days, the Gallants received the OK to go home.

"It was great. We were like a bunch of kids on Christmas," Bill said Tuesday. "It was nice to be able to sleep a night without being awakened by a nurse."

Andrew now sports a full-leg cast, as his right leg heals from the injuries. Surgeons in Boston replaced the tendon in his knee with a tendon from his back, and transplanted skin grafts. He is limited to movement, now. He does enjoy riding in his red wagon around the yard, while wearing his favorite Tigger cap. Tuesday, he laughed and high-fived and ate the pretzels his mom set out for a visitor, murmuring, 'yummy' over and over.

He is expected to walk with a brace by the end of summer, and heal otherwise quickly, with help from physical therapists.

Andrew's parents said they are grateful for the Brownville community, which they moved to just five years ago from northern Massachusetts and which gave of itself generously as the Gallants were in a time of need.

"This community gave without a thought," Crystal said. "We want to make sure this community knows how it was heartfelt and very much appreciated."

Bill pausing in thought before taking Andrew for a ride in his wagon Tuesday morning around the front yard called the community "a life saver." He said the family would never have been able to stay together throughout the month-long hospital stay without the generous donations that were placed in donation cans around town.

Enough donations were received in the month following the accident to pay Andrew's hospital and rehabilitation bills. Crystal said. If any money is left over, it will go into a college fund for Andrew although she added she would give it away to a child in need, in a heartbeat.

Specifically, the Gallants wanted to thank their neighbor, Kenneth MacKinnon, for taking care of the family pets; Dolly and Chad Perkins for local fund-raising efforts; Jim and Linda Beaudoin of Mt. Desert Island, Bill's coworkers and friends of the family; Pastor Isaiah Hill and his wife Laurene of Sebec, for providing spiritual guidance; the Brownville American Legion, for donating toys to Andrew; the emergency medical technicians with Three Rivers Ambulance of Milo and Mayo Regional Ambulance of Dover-Foxcroft. They also wanted to thank Andrew's doctors: Dr. John Upton, a Boston plastic surgeon; Dr. Jack McGill, a Bangor surgeon, and James Greene, a Bangor orthopedic surgeon.

The Gallants wrote a letter of thanks for those who helped them through the ordeal.

"A month ago to the day our son Andrew was severely injured in a lawn mower accident. Today was a wonderful day for all of us as Andrew came home. Andrew has come a long way since the accident. Most all of his wounds have healed or are well on their way. The laceration he received to his right arm is completely healed and he has full function of that arm again. The wounds to his leg are restored and healing nicely. Andrew will be in a leg cast for the next 4-5 weeks and from there he will wear a brace for a few more weeks following the cast removal.

"We would like to thank the whole community for all your thoughts, prayers and contributions for Andrew. We would also like to thank a few individuals who went that extra mile to make sure our family could stay together through all of this. Kenneth MacKinnon, watching over our home and the other counter parts of our family, making sure they were all fed and run through the days we were gone. Pastor Isaiah Hill and his wife for coming to our spiritual aid. Dolly and Chad Perkins, for setting up the donation cans and keeping everyone informed as to how things were going during this tragedy. Milo and Mayo EMS Teams and Life flight for doing what they do best and doing it well. Last but not least Dr. Jack McGill (Bangor), Dr. John Upton (Boston) and Dr. James Greene (Bangor) Andrew's plastic and orthopedic surgeons who have made it possible for him to lead a normal, functioning life, as well as the hospital staff at EMMC, for the role they played in our son's recovery.

"We remain grateful to all those involved. Thank you for helping our son!"

"I've never lived in a place where people were so kind and cared so much about each other," Crystal added.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.