For the family of 11-year-old Kinzie “Kiki” Wilson of Rendon, the worst nightmare of their life began on a sunny March afternoon at a horse ranch near Keene.
“We spent five days in pure hell,” the girl’s father, Alan Wilson, said of the days after his daughter’s near-fatal horseback riding accident.
The Wilsons were visiting friends, and Kinzie was riding one of their horses. The nightmare started when Kinzie fell from the horse, struck her head on a metal pipe fence.
The family knew right away the injury was serious. They called 911, and paramedics with Keene Fire Department responded.
Keene Fire Chief Matt Gillin said his department received the call at 5:50 p.m. and immediately notified a CareFlite helicopter to stand by “because of the nature of the injury.”
“When we arrive at a scene, we assess the patient. We have to make a decision within the first minute or so on whether we need to call in CareFlite so we can get them there as quickly as possible,” Gillin said.
In Kinzie’s case, “We called them right away,” Gillin said.
The CareFlite helicopter landed in a nearby field to pick Kinzie up, then carried her to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. She was rushed into surgery where doctors worked to relieve pressure on her brain caused by the fractures in her skull and around her left eye, and to repair the damage.
Doctors told Kinzie’s parents her prognosis was bleak.
“Doctors won’t even know for sure if she’ll make it three more days,” Alan Wilson wrote in an email to friends as he waited for his daughter to come out of surgery. And even if she lived, doctors told the parents, Kinzie could suffer damage to her brain and eye.
Kinzie’s condition improved by bits and pieces. Alan Wilson, in his now-daily email update to friends, noted on March 28 that Kinzie “had a real bad night but she fought through it and is a little better today.” By the next day, he said she “seems to be getting a little better. But we’re not out of the woods yet.”
And then, on March 30, came the news they had all been praying for: “She’s gonna make it!” Alan Wilson wrote. “99 percent certain, but that’s close enough for me! Still won’t know what, if any, the long term effects may be ... and I don’t care, as long as she makes it.”
Now, a week and a half later, Kinzie is recovering well, and Alan Wilson credits the fast response of Keene FD and CareFlite and the excellent care of the physicians and nurses at Cook Children’s with her recovery.
“The Keene guys were great. They did everything they possibly could for us, and they certainly did the right thing by calling in CareFlite,” he said. “And the CareFlite guys were awesome. The pilots that brought her to Cook Children’s even came by to visit her and check on her after she woke up.
“And the doctors and nurses [at Cook Children’s] are amazing. If anyone ever has to take their children to the hospital for something, they should bring them here. I can’t say enough good things about this hospital and the staff.”
But the real credit, Alan Wilson said, goes to God, to Kinzie’s own deep and abiding faith and to the nonstop prayers of family and friends since the accident happened.
“Kinzie has such a deep Christian faith, and her faith has helped us all get through this,” he said. “And so many people have been praying for her, for all of us. Our church, our friends, our neighbors — even people we don’t know. Everyone praying for her is what really pulled her through and saved her life.”
Kinzie’s story caught the attention of a lot of people who don’t know her or her family. A Facebook page set up by a family friend to chronicle her recovery — Kiki’s Amazing Journey — collected more than 1,300 likes. And she has made a lasting impression on the first responders who deal with accidents and injuries every day.
In 2012, Gillin said, Keene Fire-Rescue responded to 1,622 calls, “but we don’t run on calls like this every day.”
Gillin added, “We are so glad to see that she is doing so well. And I was telling my firefighters just yesterday that I am so proud of them for the work they did on this call. I told them this is a great example of how we can be an awesome link in the chain of saving someone’s life.”
Friends have set up a fund to help cover Kinzie’s medical expenses. But Alan Wilson said the family has insurance, and that any money donated to the fund that isn’t used for his daughter’s expenses will be donated to Cook Children’s. To donate, visit www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/fd52/kinziewilson.