TAMPA — Summer Moll has dozens of breaks in her little 4-year-old bones. She nestles in a hospital bed with a brace circling her neck and pins piercing her legs. With a tube in her throat, she can't talk.
She has been here for two weeks, since the day the SUV came barreling the wrong way on the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway west of Brandon and smashed into her mother's car.
The crash killed her mother, but she doesn't know that yet. The driver of the car that hit her had been drinking, authorities say.
In intensive care in the days after the Sept. 10 crash, Summer didn't open her eyes. Now, though, she'll wake up for 10-minute intervals. The best medicine seems to be her favorite show, SpongeBob SquarePants, on the hospital television, so a family friend bought her several DVDs.
"Her eyes are wide and awake. She's listening," her grandmother, Tammy Rosian, said.
Summer is fighting and offering her family hope in a dark time.
People have been wondering about the little girl they read and heard about in news reports of the crash, how she's doing. They've posted messages on the Internet saying they are praying for her. On Tuesday, Rosian wanted everyone to see a picture of Summer, to see what drunken driving can do to a family, so she released photos of the child's damaged body in her hospital bed.
"I want them to see what happens when they get behind the wheel and hurt a family," she said. "It's not fair."
Summer's mother, Jennifer O'Boyle, died in a crash on the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway the day before her 25th birthday. Summer was taken to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition. Deputies and doctors thought she would die, too.
Now that O'Boyle's memorial services are done, Rosian's new mission is to persuade people who drink — even one beer — to stay away from the wheel.
"Call a neighbor, call me," she said. "I'll come pick you up."
On the day of the crash, authorities said, Cheryl Marie Riemann, 25, drove the wrong way on the lower ramp of the Crosstown and hit O'Boyle's car near the 78th Street Exit.
Deputies said Riemann had a blood-alcohol level of 0.244, three times the level at which the law says a driver is impaired. A man had called to report Riemann's car driving erratically a few minutes before the crash, but police never caught up with her.
She has been charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide and remains in Orient Road Jail without bail.
Rosian didn't want to talk about Riemann on Tuesday. Instead, she focused on Summer, whose condition had just been changed to serious from critical.
All four of her limbs are broken, and she faces another surgery to put the pins that are now on the outside of her legs on the inside, Rosian said. The grandmother is grateful for the well-wishes and the hundreds of cards people have sent.
Doctors haven't conducted an MRI test yet because of the pins, but she seems to be responding well mentally, Rosian said.
"She's our strong girl," she said. She's encouraged now that Summer can wiggle her fingers and toes in response to her, and eat a couple of spoonfuls of applesauce. "She's going to pull through. I know she's going to pull through."
But what Rosian really wants is to hear her talk, to hear her say the name the little girl calls her, Me-maw. "I say 'Me-maw just wants to hear you say Me-Maw,' " Rosian said. "But not yet."
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2443.