New Media Producer: Brad Maglinger
The Insurance Information Institute says some 70,000 people get hurt every year by a lawn mower. Fifteen children die from accidents involving riding lawn mowers. Remember that next time a child wants to ride on your lap while you're cutting the grass.
Heather Dillman didn't want to buy another lawn mower, not after what she and her family had been through last summer. Mom was fixing dinner while three-year-old Evan was half asleep on the couch, or so she thought. He'd really made a beeline out the front door and into the path of his dad on a riding lawn mower.
"My husband actually had to lift the lawn mower and throw it to the side to free him from the lawn mower," says Heather.
The mower had pulled Evan's right side into the blades.
"He only has half of his ulna and half of his radius in his arm, and they're fused together just to make a one bone forearm," explains Heather. "And of course, he lost his middle fingers and stuff."
Injuries Evan is learning to live with, from an accident his parents may never accept.
Heather: "I think that that was one of the mistakes that we made was to let our son sit on his dad's lap," Heather states. "And he thought, 'Hey, it's OK to ride on the lawn mower.' When he saw daddy out there mowing, he thought, 'All right, I get another ride.'"
St. Mary's injury prevention coordinator, Matt Howard, says it's not just the lawn mower blades that pose a threat, but the discharge chute that can spit out objects at 200-miles an hour.
"That's rocks. That's toys. That's sticks. That's any kind of projectile that can come out of these things that fast," he says. "One of the things we want to promote for people so they understand is when somebody's mowing to stay away."
Heather Dillman wishes she would have stressed that to her children before that awful day that changed all of them forever. "In a way, it's made us stronger," she says. "And in another way, we'll have to spend the rest of our lives trying to forgive ourselves for not being more careful."
She's hoping at least she can inspire other parents to be more careful.