Six-year-old Eddie Caddell loves vehicles.
But tucked in his Wichita hospital bed a few days ago, he watched the Disney movie “Cars.” And it scared him.
“He said, ‘Daddy, the car ran over me,’” said Eddie Caddell, 23, recalling his son’s fear.
Later the pair watched “101 Dalmatians.” But the younger Eddie didn’t like that one, either.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“He doesn’t want to be around any animals anymore,” his father said.
“It’s pretty hard seeing him do it every day.”
The path to recovery for 6-year-old Eddie took him to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., this week, 13 days after a silver car clipped the back leg of Lloyd “Sonny” Ferguson’s horse on 21st and Piatt. The impact threw the boy and Ferguson – both riders – from their perch, where the car hit them and sped off. A second car also struck the pair.
Ferguson, 59, of Wichita died at the scene. His horse was euthanized.
Eddie, however, lived. The crash broke his femur and left a deep gash in his back, his father said. Doctors stitched his lip and cheek and drove six staples into his sides.
But, his father said, the 6-year-old now fears some of his favorite things.
And he can’t walk. Or talk like he used to.
“His brain is not functioning too good,” his father said. “He slurs his words.
“And you know how a person looks at you when they’re talking to you? He doesn’t do that anymore.”
Driver still at large
As the sky darkened on July 5, Caddell headed to Grove Park with 6-year-old Eddie, his 5-year-old daughter and the children’s mother.
Extra firecrackers needed to be popped, he explained. That’s what brought the family to the 21st and Piatt area the night Ferguson was killed.
When the children saw Ferguson, a family friend, atop his horse, they begged for a ride. Five-year-old Trina rode first. Then, Caddell said, his 6-year-old boy “cried to get on.”
Caddell said he didn’t worry. “They usually rode the horse with him (Ferguson) all of the time.”
But as the pair crossed 21st near Piatt – about a block from Ferguson’s home – the car struck the horse. Then a second car slammed into the man and boy as well as two bystanders who had run to their aid.
Police say the second driver, a 62-year-old woman, didn’t see them lying in the street. But she stopped to help. It was unclear Friday whether she will face any charges.
The driver of the first car remains at large, Wichita police Lt. Doug Nolte said Friday. Authorities are looking for a silver or gray 2003 to 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis with extensive front-end damage in connection with the case.
A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered by Crime Stoppers for information that leads to an arrest. Tipsters can call 316-267-2111, text TIP217 and a message to CRIMES (274637) or submit tips at www.wsccs.com.
Caddell, who saw the crash, said Ferguson protected Eddie from the impact.
“Sonny rolled onto my son to save his life,” Caddell said.
“One car came. And then the next car. It happened so fast.”
‘Like a normal kid’
Eddie spent several days in intensive care at Wesley Medical Center before he was moved to a regular hospital room, Caddell said.
By Wednesday night, the 6-year-old had improved from critical to fair condition, a hospital operator said. Late Thursday morning, he left for the Nebraska hospital.
Eddie rode in an ambulance. His father went, too. His mother arrived later.
It’s unclear how long Eddie’s recovery will take. But he will receive therapy at the hospital for at least 30 days, Caddell said.
Before the accident, “he was really an active kid. And he was very smart, too,” Caddell said.
“We’re trying to help him walk and talk again and be just like a normal kid.”