CHANDLER, Ariz. — A four-year-old girl is defying the odds after she was struck by a car in Chandler just days before Christmas.
On Dec. 20, Katie Sandell was going to an appointment near Banner Ocotillo in Chandler. Her husband, Jeff, and three of their children decided to walk across the street and look at Christmas lights at a nearby church while waiting.
“The kids were exchanging stories about what they’d asked Santa for," Jeff recalled. "This is the first Christmas that Addi really comprehended all that.”
'She looked at me for a second and then she looked at the car.'
When it was time to head back to meet Katie, Jeff and his kids, all holding hands, stopped to wait for an approaching car to pass.
“Our youngest, he stepped off the curb," Jeff said.
As Jeff told him to stay, Addi, eager to tell her mom about her updated Christmas wish list, pulled away.
“She looked at me for a second and then she looked at the car," Jeff said. "And the last look on her face when she looked at the car was just utter terror.”
Addi was struck and sent a hundred feet.
“She was rolling across that pavement as fast as the car," Jeff recalled through tears. “I couldn’t feel a pulse.”
Then came a hero. A physician assistant leaving Banner Ocotillo sprinted to help.
Brett Mason, the heroic PA, was covering a shift that day and wasn't supposed to be there.
“Thank god for him because he saved her life," Jeff said. "He’s a hero. He’s the definition of a hero.”
Then came the next hurdle for Addi. She needed to survive the first 72 hours at Banner Children's at Desert Hospital.
Addi has a punctured lung, broken neck and ribs, and a traumatic brain injury.
“That was I think the first thing I told her. Fight with that feistiness you’ve got," Katie said.
“It’s nothing short of a miracle," Katie said. "Above anything I'm just thankful. From Brett to all of the staff."
Thursday brought another hurdle. Addi was to undergo a spinal fusion surgery.
“If anybody could fight through this it would be Adeline," Katie said.
For now, the Sandell family doesn't know what tomorrow will look like. They're appreciating the little moments and signs of improvement they're getting from Addi every day. They believe Addi is surrounded by the best medical team in the Valley.
“Having each other and my faith is what’s gotten us through this," Jeff said.
As for Addi, she continues to defy the odds one day at a time.
“If she’s living and she’s breathing we’ll take anything else that comes. We’ll get through it," Katie said.
Friends of Addi's family have set up a GoFundMe to help with the burden of Addi's medical costs. You can find the link to donate here.
In addition, Katie is posting updates on Addi's road to recovery in a Facebook group called "Addi's Miracle." You can stay up to date by joining that group here.
Chandler Fire Department delivers Christmas surprise to Sandell family
As Katie and Jeff, along with their 11 other children, have been busy at the hospital through the holidays, the Chandler Fire Department, who helped Addi the night of the accident, made Christmas possible.
Firefighters in Chandler showed up to the Sandell home and dropped off gifts for the other Sandell children and family members. They also delivered Jeff and Katie fresh clothes and items to the hospital.