Media Archive

Brownville toddler injured in lawn mower incident

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 23, June 04, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Parents staying bedside at Boston Children's Hospital

BROWNVILLE In the time it took for Crystal Gallant to head inside her Brownville Junction home, grab some bug spray, and turn back around, her worst nightmare became reality.

Her only son, 2-year-old Andrew, had been following close behind &Mac247; until his father's riding lawn mower caught his attention. Without a word, he made a U-tum, toddled around a tree and slipped on the slick, freshly- mown grass, landing beneath me winding, twirling lawn mower blades.

"Andy was supposed to be following me, but his love for tractors is phenomenal," Crystal said Friday in a telephone interview from a room at Boston Children's Hospital, where Andrew was ultimately brought for treatment after the May 27 accident. "He did a 180-degree turn, slipped on the grass clippings. I grabbed the backpack with bug spray in it, and turned around. That's when I heard it. At first I thought it was a toy, but then I realized the white thing under the tractor was not a toy, it was my son's shoe."

His father. Bill Gallant, said he had shut the lawn mower off seconds before Andrew fell beneath it, when he saw what looked like a cat or dog out of the comer of his eye coming toward him.

But gravity didn't stop the blades soon enough.

Andrew instinctively curled up into a fetal position, under the blades, his dad said, and received injuries to his right leg and arm.

Once Bill realized what had happened, he immediately lifted the lawn mower off his son and brought Andrew into the kitchen, calling for Crystal to bring towels and gauzes to apply a pressure dressing.

"I wasn't sure what we had hit for arteries," said Bill, a certified surgical technologist who works at Eastern
Maine Medical Center in Bangor. "But we were lucky, the bleeding was significant but no arteries were severed."

"I grabbed toes, skin ... any pieces I could find, and put them on ice," Crystal said. "Bill called for a syringe to irrigate [the wounds]."

Crystal called 9 -1-1, gave pertinent infqimatiqn to the dispatcher and hung up to help Bill dress the wounds. Crews from Mayo Regional Hospital's ambulance service arrived in "no more than 10 minutes, but it seemed like a decade," she said, adding words of high praise about the care Andrew received from the emergency workers.

Andrew was airlifted by Life Flight from Davis Field in Brownville to EMMC, assessed, and sent on to Boston Children's Hospital, where he is today. Doctors there last week were flushing his wounds to prevent any infections, his parents said.

"He's in stable condition ... as far as we know the wounds look good," said Crystal. "There was no nerve damage acquired. He is missing the patella kneecap, his quadricep muscle and two toes."

Bill said that surgeons plan to remove a muscle from Andrew's back and transplant it into his right leg. They
also will replace the missing kneecap.That surgery can only take place if no infection makes its way into Andrew's wounds.

It may take a month before he can leave the hospital, his parents say.

Meanwhile, both his mother and father are staying bedside, taking turns sleeping in a lounge chair in the hospital room &Mac247; per hospital policy. "We rotate," Bill said, "in case something happens."

Bill said he has time off from work until June 10, but intends to stay in Boston as long as possible with his wife and child. Hopefully, if the surgery and skin grafts are successful, Andrew can be transferred back to EMMC for follow-up care, his father said.

"That would be much easier on us," Bill'said.

While the family has health insurance to assist with the mounting hospital bills, the Gallants are required to
pick up a percentage of those healthcare costs, as well as miscellaneous costs (such as meals) that result from a prolonged stay in a far away city.

And while the prognosis for Andrew is good &Mac247; he is expected to be able to walk again, although it may be awhile before he does so without a leg brace, his parents noted &Mac247; it will take a lot of money, a lot of prayers, and a lot of rehabilitation before he is fully recovered.

"We don't know what to be prepared for," said Bill.

His mom, Crystal, agreed it will be hard.

"This is such a terrible accident," she said, her voice wavering with emotion. "We expected little bumps and bruises ... never anything like this. We're keeping our fingers crossed. We know we have a long way to go."

Contributions to aid in Andrew's recovery can be made out to William Gallant, with a memo "for Andy's fund," and mailed to Eastern Maine Federal Credit Union, 489 State St., Bangor, ME 04401, or made out to Andrew Gallant and sent to Maine Savings Credit Union in Milo. Donation cans also have been set up in various businesses in Milo and Brownville.

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