It’s the kind of news that sends a jolt through any parent who puts a child on a school bus every day: your child has been involved in a crash on their way to school.
As the minutes passed that March morning on the way to Lighthouse Charter School, the news got worse. One child and the bus driver didn’t survive and there were still others to treat. But one child was still in need of a rescue, a little boy who’d been sitting right behind the driver when the bus struck a bridge support.
“Upon impact he was ejected, he hit the cement pillar and bounced back and he was trapped under the bus in the wheel well kind of dangling upside down, waiting for someone to save him,” said Nikki Dennis, Edward’s mother.
That boy is 7-year-old Edward Tindall. It wasn’t just him, his younger sister was on the bus too. Their mother Nikki, who’s now talking about it all for the first time, got the call while at work in Lebanon. Without knowing how either child was, it was an anguishing hour drive to the crash site, and then to the school. On the way, the call came that her daughter was okay, but Edward’s status was still unknown.
“I had to wait at the school for my daughter to get off the bus so that I could get her, I waited, hoping he was on the second bus. He wasn’t,” Dennis said after pausing with a sigh.
One, maybe two hours later, she learned Edward had been flown to Riley Hospital at IU Health and he was already coming out of surgery. After being trapped for 45 minutes, his left leg had to be amputated from the calf down, an emergency procedure done right there at the scene. Once at Riley, the full scope of his injuries became apparent.
“His right leg was broken in several places, his right hip was out of socket, there was some pulling between his brain stem and his spine where they connect.”
Worst of all, Nikki couldn’t communicate with Edward. He’s eating now, but a short time ago, his broken jaw was wired shut and he was in a medically-induced coma.
“I was in a coma?” Edward asked.
“Yeah, you were in a medically-induced coma for three weeks, baby,” said Nikki.
The surprise in Edward’s eyes show how he’s still learning about how much his little body went through, and as it sinks in, his realization is almost too much to bear.
“I couldn’t talk?” Edward asked. “No, you couldn’t talk, but we could talk couldn’t we?” said Nikki. “But you can talk now. You’re getting better everyday, just gotta work hard.”
And work hard as a family. Nikki, her mother and daughter are at the hospital every day, the two of them sleeping by Edward’s side to help him with his resolve to heal.
“All we can do is look forward and my focus is to make sure from this point going forward that he has everything he needs and that’s support from myself, my mom, my family, friends, people that know that knows he’s okay, that he’s fine and no matter what, nothing’s going to stop him from doing anything he wants to do,” said Nikki.
In time, he’ll be fitted for a prosthetic, and should make a full recovery.
Beyond the hard work and medical care, faith is also required. In Edward’s family, there’s no shortage of that. In fact, you can see it. If you look at the right side of his face, there’s something that wasn’t there before: a cross-shaped scar, that his family chose not to use plastic surgery to erase.
“We had a lot of people praying for us, even just him making it through those 46 minutes to me, it’s miraculous and to me I feel like God was with him the whole way and His way of showing me that was to brand my son with a cross on his face.”
His brand and his smile, Edward’s personality seems to have remained unphased by his traumatic ordeal.
“To look at him and to see his smile on his face, his personality that was there before was one of the best things I could have asked for because everything else is nothing, as long as he’s still my Edward and he is,” said Nikki.
And Edward, he is full of charm, and a healthy sense of humor. His spirit’s the same, and even at the tender age of seven, he seems to know what to be thankful for.
“You’re the best mom ever,” Edward said, his hand clasped by Nikki’s.
Edward can’t walk and can barely move, but that’s all about to change. In part two of Edward’s Story, we show you his amazing progress in such a short amount of time, how he’s re-learning the basic things in life and, you have to see the amazing way he leaves the hospital and arrives home. It’s all on Fox59 News at 10 p.m. Thursday.