CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Chesterfield family is speaking out about backup safety, after their daughter was run over by an SUV in her own driveway.
Their 7-year-old daughter, Charity Ann, is alive, but now has several special needs. Looking back on that day, they hope they can help another family.
"Just happened," said her mother, Kelly Rose, reflecting on that day. "A split second. You turn your back."
That moment changed the trajectory of Charity's life forever. Just two weeks after her third birthday, she ran behind that SUV leaving her home, as it was backing out.
"Charity, you couldn't turn around for a split second. She was out," said Rose.
The moments that followed were terrifying, and seemingly insurmountable for the family.
"You panic," said Rose. "I remember running to where she was laying at and just picking her up and screaming! You know, somebody help me."
Charity was rushed to the hospital for a traumatic brain injury, and subsequent stroke. For a long time, each moment of her life was unsure.
"They were just telling me all this stuff, like she's not going to make it! If she makes it, she will be a vegetable," Rose remembered. She said the possible outcomes were all grim, and all the family could do was pray.
"But I remember staring at the doctor and saying, when God tells me to give up on that little girl, then I will," said Rose. "But I never had that feeling that that's what her life was to be about. "
It's a nightmare thousands of families, like Charity's, are living each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries each year caused by back-over crashes. Soon, The NHTSA will require all vehicles to have a camera.
Fast forward four years for Charity's family, and life is so much more hopeful. Charity is home, loved, and overcoming so many limitations doctors expected her to face.
"It's still amazing just to watch her accomplish things that she does," said Rose. "Like, now she's learning to speak a little more. They said she wouldn't talk."
Charity's family calls her a blessing from God. They love her just the way she is.
"She's got this way about here," said Rose. "You know, you just know that she's an awesome kid!"
But, her family still lives with the "what ifs"- Charity's life hasn't' been easy, and it's not what it might have been.
"It's still always going to have an effect, because you know, things have changed for you," said Rose.
That's why they're sharing their story. Because, life can change that fast.
Charity's accident has been a challenge for her family in several ways. They also struggle to keep up with bills and insurance policies for all of her needs. She finally got approved for a new wheelchair- her family says she outgrew hers years ago. And they say the van they use to drive her is unreliable- sometimes working, sometimes not. Which means if Charity needs to go to the doctor, the family has to call an ambulance.
Otherwise, she can't leave home.
Starting in 2018, the NHTSA will require all vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds to have visibility technology, like backup cameras.