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Family celebrates girl's life, one year after near-fatal parade accident

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Chanute Tribune, The (KS)
March 17, 2001

Family celebrates girl's life, one year after near-fatal parade accident
Author: © 2001 The Associated Press
Article Text:KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Saturday is St. Patrick's Day, but that's not why the Fletcher family is throwing a party. Steve and Shauna Fletcher are celebrating the life of their 4-year-old daughter, Kelly. In a sense, though, the celebration is about St. Patrick's Day. Saturday marks one year since Kelly fell under the wheels of a St. Patrick's Day float on a downtown Kansas City street.

Kelly's broken pelvis and lacerated liver have healed, and now she is as active, healthy and cheerful as any of her peers. Dozens of people sent cards, stuffed animals, balloons and notes to Kelly at Children's Mercy Hospital last year. Many of them did not know the Fletchers.

"The outpouring of support helped us get through," Shauna Fletcher said in her kitchen Thursday, as Kelly sat on her lap coloring pieces of paper with an orange marker. "It was very overwhelming." The Fletchers requested privacy in the months after the accident. They agreed to discuss Kelly's recovery after realizing that many people, including some who witnessed the near-tragedy from the sidewalk, wanted to know how she was doing. The answer could have been different, but several things went right that day.

When Kelly fell the crowd yelled at the float's driver, who stopped quickly and backed up. An off-duty firefighter and a nurse who worked in the intensive care unit at Children's Mercy tended to Kelly. Not far behind the float, the Rampart Search and Rescue team from Denver was in the parade. Its members dropped out to help. At the hospital, the news was grim. Kelly's liver was bleeding. She received two transfusions. Doctors asked permission to operate, but then decided to wait an hour to see if the bleeding would stop. They worried that Kelly would not survive the surgery.

The bleeding stopped. Kelly spent two weeks in intensive care, part of it in an induced coma. She went home a month after the accident. "It was touch and go for so long," Shauna Fletcher said. In July, her parents asked Kelly if she wanted to ride her bike in their annual neighborhood parade. "Yes," Kelly said, "but I don't want to ride on a float." The party Saturday will give the family, including Kelly's three siblings, a happy way to think of St. Patrick's Day again. "We decided to do this," Steve Fletcher said, "as a thank-you for all the people who supported us."
Copyright 2001, 2006 The Chanute Tribune. All Rights Reserved.
Record Number: 10F1FC990F2867F7

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