A 21-month-old toddler is recovering at Dayton Children's Hospital after losing all five toes on her right foot when she was run over by a riding lawnmower this week.
The accident has caused her mother, Ashley Kelly, to sound the alarm to parents and guardians to be constantly vigilant in looking after their youngsters.
"It was one of those things where you see on the movies, where you say 'this is never going to happen to me.' And it was almost like a dream at first, then it became a reality," Kelly told News Center 7's Monica Castro on Wednesday night.
Kelly said her grandmother was cutting the front yard of the home on North Lutheran Church Road when 21-month-old Mattaya dashed toward the mower. The child follows her great-grandmother wherever she goes, Kelly said, remembering that she let go of her daughter to tend to her son who had fallen off his skates.
"I heard the most God-awful scream," Kelly remembered, and looked up to see Mattaya under the mower.
"I'm screaming 'stop stop!' and by the time her grandmother heard her, Kelly pulled up the mower and pulled the child out. She wrapped up the child, called police and was driving to the hospital when police met her at Jefferson High School and had Mattaya flown the rest of the way.
Fire crews dispatched to the home recovered "all five toes" and took them to the hospital.
"So now, my daughter, for the rest of her life, will only have half a (right) foot," Kelly said. "But I'm blessed because it could have been so much worse."
Kelly said she reached the child just in time and the save will mean she will have many years to comfort her daughter.
A mother’s advice: “Constantly be on the lookout because I was that person that thought this is never gonna happen. And it did. And it only takes a few split seconds for them to just dart since they're so fast. Especially at toddler age."
Mattaya’s "gonna bounce back quicker than what an adult would," Kelly said doctors told her. "It's gonna be almost like she was born with [the loss of the toes]."
Mattaya will remain a patient four to six weeks and will have to wear a special shoe insert. Her doctors have said it will take three to four years for her to learn to run and jump.
Kelly said Mattaya likes to dance and run after her brother.
"It's gonna take some time and some hard work," Kelly said of Mattaya's recovery, "but she's got this."
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