A dad whose toddler died after she was crushed beneath his truck spent 200 hours putting up more than 300,000 Christmas lights to celebrate her memory.
Brad Henn, 40, lost his 21-month-old daughter London when she fell from the front passenger side of his truck and was run over by the vehicle’s rear wheel.
The dad-of-three was driving the tot to pick up her brother Tristen, 12, when she freed herself from her car seat and climbed into the front passenger seat.
Brad, a contractor, said the accident happened in a split second when Tristen and his friends opened the door as he parked, causing London to fall to her death.
A police investigation deemed London’s death a tragic accident, but Brad felt he would never overcome the overwhelming guilt and despair after losing her in September 2012.
He knew he had to do something on December 5 2012 to mark what would have been London’s second birthday and decided to erect 16,000 Christmas lights in her honor.
Since then, Brad’s display “London’s Lights” has grown into a 300,000-bulb festive extravaganza which attracts more than 50,000 spectators each year.
The lights benefit the hospital that battled to save London following the crash and is decorated in the toddler’s favorite colors – blue and pink.
Brad, of La Vergne, Tennessee, said: “She was my youngest. She was full of energy. She was a pure joy and a delight.
“We were inseparable. Life couldn’t have been any better.
“I knew I had to do something to honor London’s life.
“She was such a pure joy and she knew no strangers.
“I decided to decorate the house in her honor and it has just grown and grown.”
Brad said he felt as if his life had ended following London’s death on September 13 2012, and he didn’t eat for weeks as he battled his grief.
Recalling the tragedy, he said he strapped his daughter into her carseat and was driving her through the neighborhood to pick up Tristen.
He said: “She had gotten to the age when she was able to push the button on her harness and she managed to wiggle free of her restraint.
“She climbed into the passenger seat just as I pulled over and the boys were approaching the car.
“I could see it happening in that split second before it did. They opened the door and I reached for her shirt but she fell forward.
“I tried to break the truck but it jerked forward. It happened in the flip of a switch.
“I ran to pick up her lifeless body, and I walked home, my tears mixed with her blood. I knew she was dead.”
Neighbors flooded out of their homes and one performed CPR, but London was already dead.
Police ruled the death an accident but Brad said he blamed himself.
That Christmas, he decided to decorate the house as a tribute for his daughter and said the impressive display has grown year on year.
This year, Brad, who is also dad to Macy, 14, began decorating the house on October 1 and spent 200 hours over 53 days putting up the lights ahead of Thanksgiving.
He forks out $1,000-a-month electricity to keep the house shining bright from 5pm to 10pm each evening until January 5.
The beautiful display also benefits Vanderbilt Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, where the tot was taken after the accident.
Visitors give money or donate toys which are given to charities to help sick children and people in need over the festive period.
Over the years, around 4,300 gifts have been donated as part of the toy drive.
Brad added: “Helping other kids and people has helped me heal.
“London’s Lights has helped me rise above the emotion.
“I could sit and wallow at Christmas but instead I’m doing something in London’s memory that makes people really happy.”