This is the letter my mom wrote home to our family and neighbors four days after John's accident. I thought I would put it in here so Stockton could read it.
Dear Neighbors and Family,
We weren't going to worry the neighborhood about John's accident, but since Ron's mom called the Leatherwoods, I decided to write a note letting you know exactly what happened to our John. I did try to get hold of the bishop because at one point we felt we needed the prayers of as many good people as we could get; but since it was the fourth of July, no one was home.
We were visiting the cemetery at Richmond, Missouri. This is the cemetery where David Whitmer is buried. We had parked the tent trailer on the side of the road and walked to the top of the hill. After we had found his grave marker, we were all together (except for Spencer, he had gone to the car.) We decided to take a picture of Austen King's tombstone. He was a leader of the mobs who persecuted the early saints -- later he became governor. Just as Ron was about to take the picture, we heard people yelling and heard a car screeching and stopping. People started running and I heard a lady yell, "Oh my God".
I immediately thought that Spencer had been hit. I started running down the hill yelling his name. I thought Johnny was behind me. I yelled, "Is that my child?" before I could see anything. A lady called back, "I don't know." When I could see, I saw Johnny. I couldn't believe it. I didn't even know he had left us. He was lying in the road as still as could be. When I ran up to him, he was unconscious. He was bleeding from his mouth and nose. I cannot describe to you the feelings I had at that moment. I have never felt so sick in all my life. As I reached him, he started to come to. I knelt over him and tried to keep him still. He started to fight me and try to get up. People were yelling at me to not move him. He wouldn't answer or acknowledge me and he seemed very disoriented. A lady made me leave Johnny when the ambulance came. She stayed by me and tried to calm me down. Ron had jumped over a ledge in an attempt to get to Johnny. He gave John a blessing -- but it was a fast one. He didn't get the oil and the paramedics kept trying to get us both to leave while Ron was giving the blessing. They strapped Johnny in all the papoose boards etc. and started oxygen on him. They took off his shoes (the kids tell me his shoes fell off during the accident) and cut his clothes off of him. The lady who hit him came up to me. I told her that no matter what happened, I knew it wasn't her fault. Johnny just ran out in front of her. Another car, going faster than she was, just barely missed him. Later she told me that as she began to approach the hill where Johnny was hit, she started to think about another little boy who had been hit by a car by another cemetery in town last week. She started to slow down. Then her friend said to her, "You'd better slow down." So she slowed down some more. She was going about 37 mph when she hit Johnny. She saw him out of the corner of her eye and she swerved. She thought her wheels ran over him. (We think the wheel grazed his face.)
We followed the ambulance to the Richmond hospital. We could hear Johnny crying as they were working on him. I could see a little through the doors, and he looked a sickly gray color to me. I kept asking everyone who came out how he was and they all said, "We don't know yet." A policeman did say he had seen worse and he thought Johnny would be OK. They decided to fly him by helicopter to Mercy Children's Hospital in Kansas City. The doctor then came out and told me that since his head wounds were so serious that they weren't going to take the time to take x-rays. He said he suspected a broken clavicle and maybe a broken leg. He told me that all we could do now was to pray. One of the nurses told me that a young boy with a similar accident last week was doing fine after brain surgery. They thought that his skull was depressed and that bone fragments were pressing on his brain -- and that surgery would be required to relieve the pressure.
We drove to Kansas City; it took us over an hour to get there. We were all sick with worry. No one talked much the entire way. When I walked into that hospital, I felt I was in a dream. I knew I would be faced with news of great importance. I wondered if he had died. I couldn't believe this had happened.
The doctor met us and told us he was stable -- but until tests were taken and x-rays given, he could not give me any answers. So we waited for 3 hours for news. Meanwhile Ron's foot began to hurt. He had injured it when he jumped from the ledge. So he went to a nearby hospital to have it x-rayed. He just bruised it. They x-rayed John from top to bottom; they did tests for internal injuries; they did a CAT scan. They found that he had no broken bones; no internal injuries that they could detect; he did have two superficial bruises on his brain caused by a concussion. His face had road burns all over. He has a black eye and stitches be hid his ear. His face was swollen in several places. He has lost a tooth -- but it was a baby tooth and it was loose before. (He swallowed it while eating.) He has extremely deep wounds on both knees that are causing him a lot of pain. He cannot walk very fast.
We know Johnny was watched over. We feel the Holy Ghost inspired the women to slow down. Her quick reaction saved Johnny's life. We have lived through a miracle. Johnny has not yet fulfilled his mission here on earth.
Our plans, needless to say, have changed drastically. Monday we have a follow up appointment in Kansas City -- but we're carrying on. To have Johnny with us is all any of us care about.
We have seen a Cardinals vs. Giants game and we're on our way to Nauvoo.
Sorry this was so long. I got carried away. I thought you'd be wondering about John. Please let anyone see this letter who you might think would want to.
See you soon
P.S. Ron wanted me to add that they stayed on the lawn for 3 days of the person who hit John. We made a really close acquaintance with them. Ron gave them a Book of Mormon when he left. I slept on a couch in the hospital for 3 days.