Bodie's battle: Toddler's road to recovery after being struck by car

Bodie Hamilton about to cross at the signalled crossing near his home, with mum, Hayley. Despite the crash, Bodie doesn't have any fear about crossing there. Photo: Mike Scott
Bodie Hamilton about to cross at the signalled crossing near his home, with mum, Hayley. Despite the crash, Bodie doesn't have any fear about crossing there. Photo: Mike Scott
Hayley Hamilton's world was crumbling around her as she lifted her unconscious son off the road.

Just seconds prior she had seen her 3-year-old boy, Bodie, fly metres through the air after being hit by a car on Discovery Dr, Hamilton, on January 14, this year.

Hamilton and Bodie were at the signalled pedestrian crossing, near their home, on that busy Thursday evening.

They were on their way to Discovery Park to catch up with her husband, Brendon, who had gone to play touch, and their other two young sons.

What was just another case of crossing the road, suddenly turned into a nightmare.

"In an instant I was like, 'woah'. The car hit Bodie ... and he flew about six metres.

"[He was] a lifeless little boy on the road."

As she moved him off the road and news of the crash spread, members of the public, eventually including a nurse and doctor, came rushing to help.

Narahenpitage Norbet De Costa, 85, was last month charged with careless driving causing injury.

He reappeared in the Hamilton District Court on Friday, where he pleaded guilty.

He will be sentenced next month.

Showing signs

As off-duty medical staff scrambled to help Bodie, he soon began showing signs of life.

"He was out cold and then on the side of the road we saw his eyes opening a bit, but they were rolled back in his head.

"There was a lovely lady, an ED nurse, who was supporting his neck.

"A doctor came along and said 'oh the pulse has come back' so they were giving us hope."

Once he was stabilised he was raced up to Waikato Hospital.

By then he was drugged up but he underwent repeated and myriad tests; a CT scans, X-rays, blood tests.

First words

Bodie loves dinosaurs, and so much so that it was the first word he uttered when he regained consciousness the following morning.

"He said 'dinosaur', so we're like 'ah cool'.

"Then we could see his vision came back and he was actually looking at us, but he couldn't move for a long time."

Although he couldn't move, he was talking more and more.

"We noticed, for example, when he woke up he would be like, 'Mum I can't move, my neck hurts'.

"He complained about his grazes and he slept a lot."

The longer he slept, the longer he would also stay awake, becoming more alert each time.

"He would be awake for five minutes, and that was so special, and then wear himself out and heal himself for a few hours."

Bodie began perking up when his brothers, Nate, 9, and Cohen, 6, visited, so they were taken up each time.

"The boys were great. [Bodie] was quite upset and frustrated with us and be grizzling but when his brothers came, that's when he was first smiley and trying to act the goat ... they would make him laugh and smile."

Bodie's going home

After six days in hospital, Bodie was finally allowed to go home.

"Oh it was so good. He wanted to come home, he was so ready."

However, he wasn't his normal self; he struggled to walk, stand or sit - reminiscent of a 10-month-old.

"We had to help him walk, lift him, feed him, take him to the toilet. Even sitting, he would lose balance. It was quite amazing."

It was a month before he was back at daycare and the accident has meant a reassessment of the sporty toddler's future; rugby and football have been ruled out at this stage.

"He is really active and he will hate that, but I don't think it's worth the risk."

As for recovering at home, it happened at a remarkable rate, she said.

"Initially he would hold on to the walls to get where he needed to go, he progressed quite quickly. He'd start hopping. He got confident very quickly."

Now, apart from a near invisible scar on his forehead, it's like it never happened.

"Yeah, from what I can see he's perfect, he's just got a little scar on his forehead."

During Bodie's recovery, Hamilton says she was taken aback reading news of little Auckland 5-year-old Joanna Kong, who was fatally struck by a vehicle outside Pigeon Mountain Primary School on March 23.

"It's terrible. My heart just aches for that family because whereas I had, I suppose, good things every half day to hold on to, all I can imagine for them is that they must not have had anything.

"It's really sad. Really, really sad."

Hamilton says there are many near misses at the controlled crossing, and after Bodie's accident, locals set up a petition to try to get further alterations made.

"Yeah, there have been some near misses, I know neighbours have had lots of frustration at people just running the red light."

She believes there's a lot going on at the park; it's a sports field, playground as well as a walkway to several schools, a busy through road that also had a bus stop.

Council to consider crossing upgrade

Data from Hamilton City Council reveals there are 42 signalled crossings in the city.

The accident involving Bodie was the only serious crash at the Discovery Dr site but many locals ran the red light.

"Data supplied during our investigation into the Discovery Drive site in early 2021, post the serious crash, identified that 0.17 per cent of all vehicles ran a red light and that ranked it number seven out of the 15 sites with this technology for 2020."

Discussions about a possible upgrade at the site would held at the Infrastructure Operations Meeting on April 27.

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