On Monday, March 21, 2022 at approximately 7:30pm, our lives were changed. Our youngest son, Eli was in a four wheeler accident. We have so many people that have outpoured their love to us, we wanted to share the story. Please know, I am going to share all the details and they aren’t all nice.
Please be kind if there are spelling errors or run on sentences, I have hardly slept during this emotional roller coaster. But we are all safe. We are all alive. We will all heal.
Monday was a gorgeous spring day, with temperatures hitting in the high 60’s. The kids were outside playing as Ross did chores. Eli was driving the four wheeler up and down the driveway as he does every chance he gets. Eli is typically a very good driver and Ross was nearby to ensure that he wasn’t going to fast. Charlotte and Josiah were playing with the hose as they gave water to the cows and being typical older siblings started spraying Eli with water. They were just being kids, playing. But in that instant our world shifted. As Eli later explained, the water got on his face and he closed his eyes. I did not see the incident but I would be willing to guess that as he closed his eyes, he closed his fist, on the accelerator. He swerved the ATV and hit our retaining wall. Hard.
Ross heard the “thunk” and turned to see Eli climb off the 4-wheeler on his own power, screaming. Eli started to run, and collapsed. Ross ran to his boy and scooped up his lifeless body. Eli had blood coming from his nose. He turned white then purple. He wasn’t breathing. We didn’t know if Eli was still with us. Ross managed to call 911. Josiah and Charlotte came into the house screaming to call 911. I ran outside to see Ross stooped over a motionless body. I don’t know how I got to them. I might have flown. I had been trying to call 911 and threw my phone when I knew Ross already had them on the line. Ross was screaming that Eli was dead. I couldn’t accept that. My body went into action. I didn’t think. I started chest compressions. I gave my boy a breath, his blood staining my cheek. I pressed on his soft body again, harder. I needed him to come back. Another breath. Three more compressions and his eyes fluttered. Eli began to wheeze. His eyes opened. I don’t know what he was seeing but he wasn’t looking at me. I put my face right next to his and rubbed his hair and told him to come back to us. I told him I loved him. He began to breath again. He was alive.
I’ve tried to think about something more horrific then giving CPR to your child. I can’t think of much. I don’t want to know what is worse. I don’t want to ever know.
Eli lay on the grass, whimpering. He began to focus on Ross and I. I called my sister-in-law and thankfully she answered. I believe my words went something like “Come now. Ambulance coming. Eli hurt.” She arrived shortly after. I have never been happier to see her pull into my driveway. The ambulance came and we turned over care of Eli to them. We put our boy into their knowledgeable hands. They kept him safe.
I went to my other children. Both were terrified. Screaming to punish them for the rest of their lives if we could save their brother. I pray this is something they will forget. I fear it will haunt them for years to come. My kids aren’t perfect, but they do love hard. They needed their baby brother.
Eli was taken to the ambulance and an IV placed. We then waited for the helicopter. The EMT’s knew Eli needed more care. The were sending him to the best place they could. Eli’s tiny body was transferred to the the helicopter bed and he was whisked off into the sky. I cried for the first time. First of many times. I was so thankful to be surrounded by firefighters, sheriffs, EMTs and others that came without question to care for my boy. I saw church friends, schools friends, family members and neighbors who I knew were going to treat my child as their own. Who were not going to leave us. Who were going to do whatever was needed in my moment of need. My gratitude for these people cannot be measured.
Ross and I couldn’t go in the helicopter. Our in-laws scooped up our babies. We gave them a kiss and I drove as fast I safely could to La Crosse. My parents were at the hospital when Eli arrived and my dad was able to see him and give him comfort and love that he needed.
When Ross and I arrived Eli had already received several tests and scans. He had a broken rib and injured spleen. His heart and lungs were being monitored due to the trauma they had received. He was bloody, dirty, covered in tube and wires and scared. The doctors wanted to admit him to the PICU but there was no room at this inn. Our next options were UW-Madison or University of Iowa. Madison was closer. Madison was called. As we waited, Ross’s brother and wife arrived and helped us get the bare essentials for our travels. At about 11:30pm, Ross and Eli boarded the helicopter. I am so thankful that Eli didn’t have to make the trip alone and arrive alone. He had the best personal possible with him. I drove behind them. I had several people offer to drive with me, but I needed a moment. I need to talk to God. I needed to breath. I needed to prepare myself to be strong from my boy, my husband, my family.
I arrived at the Children’s hospital in Madison about 1:30am. Eli was still in the ER. They needed my insurance card and a covid test. I’m over insurance and covid. We waited longer then I wanted. At 3:30am we made it to the PICU room and settled in. I finally laid down at 4:07am. Exhausted in everyway.
Since then Eli’s heart, lungs, and spine have been cleared. His rib is still broke but his pain has been managed with IV Tylenol. His spleen has been our biggest worry. His hemoglobin levels have been steadily dropping all day, which means he’s bleeding. The good news is it’s going slow and the last test (happening every six hours) was better. The bad news is he can’t have anything to eat until he’s had three steady or increasing numbers. We are going to spend a second night in the PICU and after that… we don’t know.
We have been overwhelmed with the amount of messages and kind words of those offering to help and those that have been able to. We are so thankful for each and everyone. We are blessed to have access to facilities and professionals that have given our boy the best care possible. We are thankful for a healing God, powerful prayers and guardian angels caring for us.
We will do our best to share updates on our Eli. Please continue to pray. It’s working.
The Stammeyer 5