‘It’s a true miracle she’s alive’: Support pours in for Whitley County two-year-old almost killed in UTV crash
WHITLEY COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - April 22 was a normal day for one Whitley County family, until a pickup truck struck their UTV head-on, nearly killing three people.
“It’s a true miracle any of them are still alive,” said Brittany Leach-Ayers, the mother of Baelynn Ayers, who was in the crash.
The crash happened on Highway 1804 in southern Whitley County around 6:30 p.m. Leach-Ayers says her 15-year-old sister Hala and 20-year-old brother, Ryan were driving back from picking up Baelynn from her grandfather’s house when she pulled off the road to let a pickup truck drive past.
The truck hit the UTV. The driver, Colin Oaks was later arrested, charged with multiple offenses including driving under the influence and three counts of first degree assault.
“He never tried dialing 911. He sat in his truck and got rid of his drugs. He was gonna let those kids die. That’s what hurt me the most,” said Leach-Ayers.
A neighbor, Tim Dixon heard the crash and pulled Baelynn from the side-by-side. He scooped the blood from her throat, she she did not choke to death. He also helped pull metal away from Hala’s head.
“He saved the girls,” said Leach-Ayers.
All three were flown to Knoxville. Baelynn was in the worst condition. She fractured her cheek bones, jaw, three ribs and her pelvis. All but three of her teeth were knocked out.
Leach-Ayers was in Lexington when she received a call about the crash, and a friend drove her to Tennessee.
“They said she just had a cut so I didn’t think it was that bad we get to Knoxville and she’s already on the ventilator,” she said.
Baelynn was on the ventilator for nine days. Leach-Ayers says only a medication kept her alive.
“There’s nothing you can do. She’s just laying there helpless and you don’t know if she’s going to make it not just day by day but hour by hour,” said Leach-Ayers.
After getting to the hospital, she had to fight double pneumonia, staph infections and multiple lung problems.
“There’s no words I could describe how I felt,” said Leach-Ayers.
To update her family, friends and the community, Leach-Ayers posted an update on Baelynn on Facebook. Prayers and support from all over the county flooded in.
“Within 24 hours it had over 10,000 shares and 15,000 likes and people from all over the country started following Baelynn’s story,” she said. “I believe in prayers because everyone took to the story and everybody started praying and then she just started getting better.”
In just three weeks, Baelynn has undergone several reconstructive surgeries on her face and mouth as well as nerve stimulation procedures on her cheeks.
“It don’t matter what the outcome would be as long as she was alive, but I was just worried because it’s her face and her mouth and will she ever be able to eat again or will they make it look, will she ever look anything like Baelynn,” said Leach-Ayers.
However, Baelynn is a fighter, and Leach-Ayers says she has not complained once, and is now cruising the hospital on her bike as well as walking with a walker and beginning to talk, all well before doctors expected.
“She’s a special little girl and she’s just touched so many people and that’s what they always write like she’s touched me. Her story has touched me. She’s best all the odds. There’s something about this little girl that’s special,” she said.
Baelynn is undergoing physical, occupational and speech therapy. Leach-Ayer says they hope to leave the hospital in Tennessee by the beginning of June.
Baelynn’s road to recovery is long, however, as more surgeries are in her future including more face reconstruction and a possible eye surgery. She will also only ever have a few permanent teeth and will need implants by the age of eight.
“This is the beginning of their recovery so they’ve got a long road ahead of them, all three,” said Leach-Ayers.
Hala, who was pinned in the UTV for 90 minutes, has rods placed in both her legs and plates and screws. The crash also knocked out nearly all her teeth.
Ryan also had metal plates placed in his arm and legs.
Leach-Ayers says she is overwhelmed by all the prayers and support across the country and is grateful for all the donations.
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