Families await word on injured girls who were taken to Hopkins after crash Doctors say both children will survive, but injuries may leave lasting effects

November 01, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Patricia Campbell had sent her four children off to school and was getting dressed when her phone rang.

"My ex-husband was on the phone, and he just told me to get to the hospital as fast as I could," Campbell said. "I just threw my clothes on and got out the door."

All she knew was that her children had been hurt. It took her five minutes to run to Memorial Hospital at Easton. She has no car.

Four of her children and 23 other youngsters were injured when a tractor-trailer slammed into a school bus at an intersection on U.S. 50 in Easton yesterday morning. The driver of the bus was killed in the crash.

Three of Campbell's boys -- Jeremy, 6; Robert, 9; and Melvin, 10, -- were treated for scrapes and bruises. But 7-year-old Brooke suffered a fractured skull and was in critical condition. She was rushed to a trauma center at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Brooke was under moment-by-moment care yesterday in the Intensive Care Unit awaiting the doctors' decision about whether to operate. She has moved a bit but not spoken. Doctors say she will survive, but it is too early to predict possible long-term effects from her injuries.

"I'm still kind of skittish," Campbell said at a hospital news conference yesterday. "As soon as she sits up and talks, I'll be all right. I'm trying to have a cheerful attitude about it."

Dr. Charles N. Paidas, director of the Pediatric Trauma Center at the children's center, said that Campbell's child and another critically injured girl were being closely watched.

He quoted one of the girls as asking her mother: "Mom, are you OK?" The doctor said the child was not yet coherent.

Frances Holcomb, the mother of the other critically injured girl, heard about the crash from a worker at an Easton nursing home, which was turned into a makeshift emergency room. She rushed there from home but could only find information about her 13-year-old son, Marty, who was not seriously hurt. They had no information about her 6-year-old daughter, Annessa.

"They didn't tell me anything, so I knew it was bad," Holcomb said. She finally tracked down Annessa at the Easton hospital and found she had suffered numerous facial fractures, including RTC a bone behind an eye. She, too, was transported to Hopkins.

Annessa is now alert and talking. "She's asking for her mommy," Holcomb said. "She told us what hurts. We told her where she is, and she understands."

"At first, I was angry at the driver of the truck," Holcomb said. But now she is only worried about her children.

The worry is justified. Paidas said of the girls, "There will be lots of questions. There will be lots of nightmares."

Pub Date: 11/01/97

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