Monday, May 20 2013 10:58 AM EDT2013-05-20 14:58:13 GMT
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CARROLLTON, KY (WAVE) - Family and friends on Saturday buried a 3-year-old boy who died in a school bus accident in Carroll County.
Ryder Deitz died October 29 when a Head Start bus crashed into a tree, killing the boy and 3-year-old Caroline Tuttle.
Another child was in serious condition on Saturday at Kentucky Children's Hospital in Lexington. Her father said some people on scene didn't think the girl had survived the crash.
"She was actually one of the last ones they pulled off the bus," said Lee Hendren, father of 3-year-old Leighann Hendren. "They actually, at first, pronounced her dead until one of the EMTs saw her breathing."
Leighann survived the deadly wreck. Paramedics found her strapped in a harness seat belt on the bus and rushed her to Carroll County Hospital. A medical helicopter flew her to University of Kentucky Medical Center for specialized treatment.
"We're still tore up," Hendren said. "I'll never forget this the rest of my life. Hopefully, she doesn't remember the wreck."
The Carroll County father was waiting for Leighann at the end of his driveway October 29 when bus 140 veered off rural Boone Road. "Usually it's on time, so we figured something happened," Hendren said.
Hendren called his daughter's school, Carroll County Child Development Center, and a staff member confirmed his worst fear. Hendren was directed to Carroll County Hospital where other parents waited for information.
Leighann suffered head trauma, including a skull fracture and bruising and swelling on her brain, as well as other injuries that make it difficult for her to breathe. But her father said she's making progress.
"What I'm feeling, I really can't explain," Hendren said. "I'm a little happier because she's opening her eyes and improving a lot. She's actually watching cartoons. She's held her eyes open for about 15 to 20 minutes."
When surgeons release Leighann from Kentucky Children's Hospital, she'll be transported to another facility, possibly Frazier Rehab Center in Louisville.
Her father said Leighann has a long road to recovery and might not make it home for the holidays.
"She might have to stay in here a month and then go to rehab for six weeks," Hendren said. "The rehab is going to be inpatient."
Hendren is realistic but keeps his head high. He said he is grateful to those who saved his daughter's life.
"I just want to say thank you to all the rescue workers, the sheriff's department and everybody who helped out," Hendren said. "I greatly appreciate it. I really can't thank them enough, really. So thank you very much for getting there on time and getting the kids out."
Family and friends have set up an account at US National Bank of Carrollton to help offset medical expenses related to the accident. The account is in Leighann Hendren's name.