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Boy hit by garbage truck recovers

Staff members at Bayfront Medical Center are calling him the "Miracle Kid."

On Oct. 24, 14-year-old Damion Croft and a friend were riding their bicycles to Osceola Middle School when they noticed a garbage truck at a stop sign at the exit from Starkey Elementary School on 86th Avenue.

The truck was exiting the school and stopped briefly as it prepared to make a right turn onto 86th Avenue.

The driver, Brian Morris, didn't see the boys as he turned the corner. The boys tried to avoid the truck but Croft didn't move fast enough and was hit and run over.

Morris was not charged in the accident, though he was cited for failing to carry a valid driver's license, said Lt. Harry Mofield of the Florida Highway Patrol.

After five hours of surgery, doctors approached the boy's parents and tried to brace them for the worst.

"I'd like to tell you he will be here after the next hour," the child's mother, Patti, recalled the physician saying.

No parent is prepared for the loss of a child. The Crofts were no exception.

"How do you bury a child and survive?" Patti told her husband, Jay. "I kept telling him "I am not ready to do this yet.' "

Damion made it through that hour, and a week later, the eighth-grader says he is ready to get out of the hospital.

But Damion has a long way to go.

The teen suffered a fractured collarbone, broken ribs, a partly collapsed left lung, a 3-inch tear in his left lung, severed femoral arteries in both legs, a crushed pelvis and serious internal bleeding.

Doctors think Damion will need several months of rehabilitation before he makes a full recovery.

"Damion is doing very well," said Dr. Steven Epstein, a trauma surgeon at Bayfront. "We expect him to recover completely in six months to a year. . . . In a few weeks, we expect him to begin some type of rehabilitation program."

He is in fair condition in the hospital's intensive care unit. The wall of his room is adorned with close to a dozen cards from classmates and friends. He has had a visit from Morris, the truck driver.

"He doesn't understand why people are making such a big deal," his mother said.

Damion needed about 50 units of blood.

A blood drive has been scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of Roberds furniture store at Seminole and Park boulevards by the two women who were behind the truck and dialed 911.

"This was our way of trying to do something for him," said Cheryle Ball, one of the witnesses. "We felt helpless. We wanted to do something, somehow."

Damion's parents donate blood several times each year and came up with the idea when approached by so many people who wanted to help.

"If it wasn't for the importance of giving blood, he wouldn't be here," Mrs. Croft said.

"To try to say thank you, it doesn't say enough," added her husband.