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Archive for Friday, May 12, 2006

Teen injured in N. 2nd Street accident recuperating at home

Bills for month in hospital exceed $150,000

May 12, 2006

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Billy Baker is home.

Billy, the 15-year-old blind and autistic boy injured last month in an accident caused partly by a notorious road bump in North Lawrence, was released from Children's Mercy Hospital in late April. He's now recuperating in a wheelchair at his grandparents' home on Perry Street, with four rods in his injured right leg and a bandage still covering the area where he had a skin graft.

Doctors say it could be six months to a year before he's able to walk again. It's a big change for a boy who used to swim 750 yards twice a week and could ride a bicycle despite being legally blind.

"He's handling it pretty good, really. He doesn't realize that he got hit," said his grandfather, Coye Baker. "All he says is that he got an ouchie."

Coye Baker said doctors told him that Billy also lost hearing in one ear and may have developed a heart murmur because of the wreck.

So far, the family's medical bills from Billy's nearly four-week stay at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., total more than $150,000. That doesn't include more than $6,000 for an emergency helicopter flight.

Billy and his father, Doug, were walking on the east side of North Second Street on April 1 when a trailer separated from a northbound Toyota and struck Billy. The vehicle, driven by 37-year-old John D. Olmstead of Lawrence, had just crossed a bump in the road that has long been the source of neighborhood complaints.


Billy Baker, 15, is back at his North Lawrence home after being hospitalized for injuries he received when hit by a trailer near North Second and Locust streets. Billy, who is autistic and legally blind, received significant injuries to his right leg, which required surgery. Billy's grandmother, Reba Baker, is at left. The bump in the road that was linked to the accident has since been smoothed.

Billy Baker, 15, is back at his North Lawrence home after being hospitalized for injuries he received when hit by a trailer near North Second and Locust streets. Billy, who is autistic and legally blind, received significant injuries to his right leg, which required surgery. Billy's grandmother, Reba Baker, is at left. The bump in the road that was linked to the accident has since been smoothed.

"I know it wouldn't have happened if that bump hadn't have been there," Olmstead said. "I heard a loud pop, and I looked back and saw it come off. There was nothing I could do at that point."

Coye Baker said he doesn't think the trailer was properly hitched. Olmstead said he'd heard the same thing from police but hadn't heard whether he would be cited or charged with any violations.

The wreck caused the city to put a temporary fix in the road to smooth the bump. The state and city have said they still plan to overhaul the intersection, a process that initially was scheduled for October 2007 but might happen sooner.

At Central Junior High School and Woodlawn School, students and employees have been gathering money to help the Baker family. Billy's family members said the issue of the medical bills is on hold for now and that the main priority is to get him rehabilitated.

"All we care about is his leg getting well," grandmother Reba Baker said.

Comments

Fatty_McButterpants 8 years, 7 months ago

Oh...my...god!! This poor kid!! So in addition to already being blind & autistic, now he is also deaf in one ear and may have a heart murmur as a result of this. How much crap can one person be saddled with in their life??

Tammy Copp-Barta 8 years, 7 months ago

I have lived in North Lawrence my entire life. If they could do a "quick" fix now. Why didn't they do it long ago? and I still can't figure out why it wasn't fixed in 1993 when they had that intersection opened up ANYWAYS!!! Ridiculous.

I'm assuming that the driver of the vehicle, regardless of the bump, would still be responsible for the medical bills, though. The trailer was attached to his vehicle.

Billy, you keep getting better. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayes

noodle 8 years, 7 months ago

Billy, Get well soon. We will be praying for you!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 7 months ago

I think the blame still resides mostly with the driver of the SUV. Even IF it was properly hitched, it was his equipment that "failed" and that's the cause of the injury. This is what insurance is for, and I hope he has a LOT of it!

Sure, if the road was flat and straight, the hitch may have stayed in place, but I think that regardless of road conditions, there is no reason for a hitch to come loose. You should be able to have an accident and not loose your trailer. I had a friend who had a UHaul hitched to his pickup as he went down US 59 when an old lady side-swiped him, completely ripping the axle off the UHaul trailer. But the trailer stayed hitched.

Fatty McButterpants: you have the best user I.D. of all the LJW posters. I think I may change my name to Tubby O'Lardgut.

adky 8 years, 7 months ago

Oldenuf is correct. Vehicle and trailer shouldn't seperate!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 7 months ago

I wonder if the driver was sober when he hitched the trailer. So many boaters drink on the water.

mztrendy 8 years, 7 months ago

I"m confused, does it say anywhere he was pulling a boat??

YoungNWild1 8 years, 7 months ago

This is sad...I know Billy, and he is an amazing person..He has been throguh alot at school...and now this..I guess Im kinda happy that he doesnt know that he's seriously hurt because I dont think that he could take it

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 7 months ago

I guess I assumed the part about the boat.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 7 months ago

I think the origanal story said it was an unloaded trailer but not posotive on that any way you look at it it is a sad story for the boys family the driver and all who know them and the city should be help resonsable for the medical expence. They knew that was a danger and could have fixed it years ago, so that makes them 99% to blame.

mztrendy 8 years, 7 months ago

Oldenuf, I think you assume and respond a little too quickly!

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 7 months ago

focus here, this is a story about a boy in pain and 2 familys that have been injured by the citys lack of response to a problem they have known about for years. If they had fixed this "bump" years ago this would have never happened.The city really is resposible for this tragady.

yellowrose 8 years, 7 months ago

This is so sad it breaks my heart! I feel that both the city and the driver are to blame and should share the responsibility of paying the medical bills and cost of the helicopter flight. If in fact Billy has a heart murmur, who knows what his future medical problems might be. Those who are responsible for this accident should also be prepared to bare the cost of his future medical problems too, should there be any. His unawareness of what happened is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps it protects him from the emotional pain that comes with the loss of the ability to do what he used to do. I hope and pray that the prognosis is good and that he will regain his walking ability. He's got a rough journey ahead of him, learning to walk again. I know. I've been through it.
God bless you and good luck, Billy. I'll be praying for you and cheering you on.

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