Tearful mom says tow truck driver saved her son's life - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Tearful mom says tow truck driver saved her son's life

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Janette Chumley says she "can't really explain what it felt like as a mom to have your son lying in a ditch for two hours." Janette Chumley says she "can't really explain what it felt like as a mom to have your son lying in a ditch for two hours."
Justin Carey (left) is a Battle Ground High School sophomore. Justin Carey (left) is a Battle Ground High School sophomore.
Carey's family says tow truck driver Charles Barrett saved Justin's life. Carey's family says tow truck driver Charles Barrett saved Justin's life.
VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -

A 16-year-old boy who was struck by a car lost at least two liters of blood while lying in the bushes for 90 minutes Monday morning.

If not for an alert tow truck driver at the scene, Justin Carey's mother doesn't even want to think about what could have happened to him.

"There's no doubt about it that he saved Justin's life," Janette Chumley said. "There's no doubt about it. It was totally him. I believe it was divine intervention that brought him there."

Carey, a Battle Ground High School sophomore, suffered two broken femurs and two severed arteries when he was hit by a car at the intersection of Northeast 289th Street and 82nd Avenue. He was waiting for a school bus at the same bus stop he has used for the last two years.

The car's driver, Shaun Johnson, didn't give any indication she struck a person at the time, and she was taken to a hospital to be treated for a broken arm.

More than an hour after Carey was struck, tow truck driver Charles Barrett found Carey lying in the bushes, bleeding severely from his legs.

"I heard a faint 'help,' and it went from there," said Barrett. "I had to dig to find him. He probably wasn't more than five feet from the car."

Because he lost so much blood, Carey was nearing "pretty severe hypothermic shock," said trauma surgeon Dr. George Dulabon.

"That's why he was weak. That's why he couldn't call out vigorously at the time," Dulabon said.

Carey's mother said she initially had no idea what happened at the intersection that morning.

"We heard multiple different stories, that he was driving, that he was riding with somebody, that he got hit," Chumley said. "I can't really explain what it felt like as a mom to have your son lying in a ditch for two hours and not being able to help them."

Once Barrett found Carey in the bushes, firefighters came to his aid and a LifeFlight helicopter took him to PeaceHealth Southwest Washington Medical Center.

That's where Dulabon and two other surgeons worked to reestablish blood flow to his leg.

"He has active blood flow to the leg and right now [the] tissue looks good. That's the important thing," Dulabon said. "The fractures have been stabilized and fortunately he has no injuries other than to lower extremities."

Dulabon said Carey should mend the broken bones in his legs "very well" because of his age and strength.

"The question we'll have is how much disability he may have from nerve dysfunction on that right leg," Dulabon said.

Carey's hospital stay will last at least three more weeks. His mother said Barrett's actions saved her son.

"I want to thank him profusely. He saved my son's life, and there's no amount of things in the world that could cover what he did for us," Chumley said.

Carey is a member of the Junior ROTC, and his father described him as "a typical 16-year-old."

"He's a strong kid. I don't like seeing him there, but I know he's going to come out of it with stripes," Jim Carey said.

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