Don't let kids ride mowers
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Henry J's Blog & BS

Don't let kids ride mowers

Over the past two weeks I have posted several updates about our son, Grady. Our family has been grateful for the prayers and support of family and friends. I've noticed many friends have "shared" our posts/updates in an effort to spread the word on his progress. While things are still very raw after five surgeries, I've had a lot of time to reflect and think about what is most important. With that said, if you do not share any of our posts/updates in the future, I would greatly appreciate it if you would please "SHARE" this one.In May of 2013 I purchased my first ride on lawnmower. My oldest son (now 14) is a respondsible kid and was more than capable of mowing our lawn. The first day we got it our son told his best friend and little brother to hop on for a ride. At first I told him no, that I didn't want him on it because it was all new to him, and he needed to make sure he knew how to handle it cautiously, as it wasn't a toy. I remembered specifically telling him that there was 54" deck of sharp blades underneath it that he could't see. By the second day we had it I felt like it wasn't a big deal for our youngest to sit on his big brothers lap…as long as he was straddled between his legs and in what I considered a "safe" or invulnerable position.The first time they mowed the lawn together I posted a picture to my fb. They looked cute, and they loved doing it together. It was only a matter of minutes before a friend of mine who owns and operates his own lawn maintenance company (and has extensive knowledge of large ride on mowers) posted a comment warning me of the danger of kids riding on mowers. His comment/post wasn't rude or nasty. He was very polite and considerate. It was obvious he wasn't out to be judgmental but only wanted the best for our son (see picture/comment attached). I took note of his comment and dismissed it, immediately thinking to myself- I'm not one of those over-protective parents. Kids can get injured doing anything. I've never heard of a kid falling off a lawn mower and getting injured. And plus, there isn't enough space between the ground and the mow deck for anything to get between the two if somehow he were to fall off…he'll be fine.I couldn't tell you how many times I have seen our two boys mowing the lawn together in the past year+. Each time with our younger son looking safe and secure between the two legs of our older son who is 6' tall and 190 lbs. Sunday evening August 17th I was working from home and heard the lawn mower running. I went out to our front deck to check on them. Grady appeared to be safely between his legs in a stable position. I took a picture of them. Like I normally do when I get a cute pic of my kids, I was proud and I posted it to fb, with a comment "Drew teaching Grady how to mow the lawn".Roughly half an hour after taking the picture of the two of them, I heard a blood curdling scream from my 14 year old coming from our back lawn. I immediately knew what happened and remembered my friend's warning. I turned my head and saw our oldest son running towards the house with his arms flailing. I then heard our 9 year old's horrific screams. As I ran outside I saw my youngest son lying on the ground in what can only be described as a horrific sight. He lay there in disbelief staring back and forth between his feet and my eyes, with his eyes almost bulging from their sockets. His cries and looks, as he continued to look back and forth between his feet and my eyes, could only be described as looking to me in disbelief, shock and wondering if this were all a horrible nightmare. As his brother had turned a sharp corner with the mower, he fell off the side. Both of his feet had gone underneath the mower deck. He had lost his two smallest toes from his right foot and a portion of the foot below the two smallest toes. He lost his big toe from his left foot, a portion of his left heel and his left foot was severed about three inches below his ankle, hanging by a thin layer of skin at the bottom.I picked my son up and ran to the passenger seat of the closest vehicle, telling my oldest son to quickly get his mom and the keys. I remembered wrapping my son's feet in a bath towel on the ride to the hospital, the entire time praying with him. Besides prayer my only thoughts were worrying that his left foot was going to fall off while I was holding him. I wanted to make sure if it fell off he would not see it and and I could hide it from him. God answered our prayers and his foot never completely came off.After a frantic drive to our local hospital's ER, where his feet were wrapped and secured, Grady was airlifted to Boston Children's Hospital. We have been here at Children's for the last 13 days. We will probably be here a couple more weeks before being transferred to an in patient rehab facility where we have been told to expect to be for two to three months.I write this for the sole purpose of saving other parents and kids from going through this. Please learn from our mistakes. There was an immense amount of guilt felt in the immediate aftermath by both my wife, I and our two boys. While we have chosen as a family to only look ahead, it is important for me to know that others can learn from our mistakes.Please, never allow a young child on a lawn mower with moving blades. If you see someone allowing a young child to ride on a mower, either in person or in a posted picture, please warn them of the dangers. You can't make your friends make wise decisions. But you can tell them about our story if they question your advise.

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