A six-year-old boy put in a coma after a lawn mower catapulted a 12in piece of steel into his skull has miraculously woken up and appears to be on the road to recovery.
Alex Hook sustained severe brain damage from the projectile which flew into him while he played outside his school.
Two weeks after the accident, he was removed from intensive care and is now awake and interacting with his family.
Alex’s aunt, Michelle Koertgen, 55, said: “We’re certainly relieved, we’re elated he can speak and recognises us and having conversation.”
Michelle was on the phone with her sister and Alex’s mother Caryn Hook, 49, when Alex made his first sound since the accident.
She said: “He started crying – it was wonderful because we didn’t know if we’d ever hear that again.
“It was terrible that he was crying but also wonderful.
“I started crying and my sister I think she dropped the phone in the chair, I was listening to her talk to him.
“I think she sat on the phone and disconnected me!”
The family said a landscaper was mowing the grass on a median just behind Riverview Elementary in Silver Lake, Wisconsin, USA, where the children were playing on September 10.
At about 11:30am, the mower ran over a waste piece of rebar and it was projected out through a chain link fence that surrounded the school grounds and towards the kids.
The metal projectile, half an inch wide, struck first-grader Alex, who was bending down at the time, in the back of his head.
He was knocked unconscious and started to have seizures.
The school contacted mum Caryn and the emergency services to inform them of the freak accident.
The mum-of-two said: “I was in total shock but composed myself immediately and rushed to the school.
“I had no idea the severity of his injury until I saw him on the ground bleeding from his head and convulsing.
“I really don’t know what prevented me from fainting.”
The boy was airlifted to the Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee while paramedics tried to stabilise him.
When he arrived, he was taken for a CT scan where he was found to have a fractured skull, and that a piece had broken off and lodged into his brain causing a bleed.
He was taken for emergency surgery to remove the largest fragment, as well as removing some healthy skull to relieve some pressure.
He was in a medically-induced coma until September 21, and was later taken off the ventilator.
The drainage tube had been removed from the right side of his head, but then fluid started to build up in the other side.
They are all awaiting news as to when he will have another surgery to have his skull bone replaced with a 3D-printed version.
Michelle said he is also undergoing daily physical, occupational and speech therapy from his bed.
She said: “He is up and he is eating but he’s caught some kind of virus because he’s got fevers.
“His fluid builds up on the left side of his head and they’re trying to figure out the game plan.
“The fluid last night, I’m not a neurosurgeon of course, but it was concerning.
“They are doing therapy with him in bed but they can’t get him out of bed because he has no protection of his head.
“We still don’t know if he can walk, we know he can’t move his toes.
“He is still being treated for infection and will probably be on heavy duty antibiotics for at least two-and-a-half weeks from now.”
You can donate towards Alex’s medical costs here; https://gofund.me/9047e02e