Ten-year-old Kalei Rynearson let out a squeal of delight when she realized what the Philomath Police Department had brought to her house late Monday afternoon. It was a new bicycle, complete with a new helmet and some cool accessories to complete the package.
Just two weeks earlier, Kalei had been hit by a vehicle.
“She’s a fearless child and just full of so much spunk and vigor … she’s just not one to stay down,” said Kalei’s mom, Tara Larson.
In fact, Larson would understand if her daughter might not want to get back on a bicycle anytime soon. “At first, I thought she might be a little hesitant or whatever, but that spirit, it’s just so strong in her.”
Philomath police Officer Brandon Thurman, who was dispatched to the accident, spearheaded an effort to give Kalei (pronounced “Kaylee”) a new bicycle.
“That could’ve been a lot worse with that accident,” Thurman said. “We’re all very grateful with how that turned out.”
The incident occured on the afternoon of April 25 when a vehicle took a right turn out of the Marys Peak True Value parking lot onto Main Street. The driver, a 54-year-old man, didn’t see the young girl on her bicycle heading west on the sidewalk.
“I think a lot of people get in the habit with one-ways … just looking in that direction for cars and not thinking about pedestrians and bikes coming in the other direction,” Thurman said.
Police responded to the call at 2:41 p.m. The driver stayed at the scene and cooperated with police.
“What had happened is the truck hit her and kind of knocked her out into the street,” Larson said. “She had fallen off her bike and fallen in a way, thank God, that it was just her leg that got run over.”
The flexible bones of a 10-year-old likely played a role in Kalei’s ability to avoid a more serious injury.
“She didn’t actually break anything,” Larson said. “She was pretty banged up, bruised and had a lot of soft tissue damage from the compression of it down on her leg.”
Larson said it was a blessing with how the situation played out, although there has been some follow-up necessary.
“We did go back to the emergency room once because of some pain in her foot — her ankle and foot really got squished pretty well,” Larson said.
Medical staff thought that a pinched nerve in the foot could be causing pain. Although that’s possible, Larson said a doctor added that the pain could just be related to her body recovering from the trauma that it had suffered.
Said Larson, “It’s just pretty shocking how well she was doing after all of it. We’re still waiting that out to make sure there’s no pinched nerve or whatever, but she’s doing really well.”
Philomath Elementary helped accommodate Kalei’s situation in the classroom.
“At school, they worked with her in terms of keeping her foot elevated,” Larson said. “There was a lot of compression trauma and so it was swollen and she didn’t participate in PE and stuff for the first week.”
It didn’t take Thurman long to jump into action to help the girl replace the bicycle that had been destroyed in the accident.
“After talking with the mom and checking in and doing a follow-up to see how her daughter was, she had mentioned that she didn’t think she’d ever want to get on a bike again,” Thurman said.
Thurman talked with his colleagues at the police station, asking for their ideas on the best way to get over an accident like the one Kalei had endured. A new bike might do the trick, so everybody agreed and decided to chip in on her new wheels.
Thurman went down to Stage One Bicycle in Philomath and talked to owner Julian Sanchez.
“I told him what was going on … and he gave us a big discount on the bike for purchasing it and threw in a lot of extra on it,” Thurman said.
While Kalei’s story was making its way around town, Larson said her daughter’s science teacher called to offer a bicycle that had been in his family. Said Larson, “Kalei’s spirit, it just shines, so they wanted to do something.”
Kalei asked her mom about the offer from her teacher but Larson was intent on keeping the police department’s presentation a surprise.
“Yeah, we were trying to hold her off and it had only been a couple of weeks since the accident … she’s ready to get back at it,” Larson laughed.
Larson said she wanted to thank the community for the response to her daughter’s accident.
“I really appreciate everybody,” she said. “Her friends at Maxtivity … they all made her a bunch of cards and it’s just a really wonderful community. We’re just really thankful.”