KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 5-year-old girl who was critically injured in a crash that involved former Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid will “endure a traumatic brain injury for the rest of her life,” according to a lawyer representing her family.
“She's a 5-year-old but, but she's functioning like a baby,” Tom Porto, who represents the family, said of Ariel Young’s condition. “She can hear her mother's voice. She perks up when she hears it. She can see her mother, but other things she doesn't recognize.
“One of the saddest parts of this story is knowing that Ariel's best friend is her cousin. And when her cousin comes over to see Ariel, it looks like Ariel is the normal Ariel, and her 6-year-old cousin doesn't realize truly the extent of what happened. It's heartbreaking.”
Reid was charged Monday with driving while intoxicated, causing a serious physical injury, which could punishable by up to seven years in jail, if convicted.
Ariel’s family wanted the “most serious charge that could be filed,” according to Porto.
“However, I will tell you that no amount of punishment is ever going to make anyone happy about what the result is,” Porto said.
Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker said that while the jail time could "feel a little short," she has to work within the Missouri law.
“This is the highest charge I can level under Missouri law for the facts and circumstances that I have for this case," Baker said. "So, it may feel a little short, but it’s my job to get into a courtroom and see about getting justice for this little girl.”
Ariel was in a coma for several days after the Feb. 4 crash. She was released from the hospital on April 2, but still is unable to walk or talk, according to Porto.
“She still cannot feed herself,” Porto said. “She depends upon a G tube feeding to place into her stomach to get basic nutrition.”
Dr. Emily Dennis, a neurology professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, told the American Academy of Neurology in 2017 that TBI is a “leading cause” of disability in children, but predicting the outcomes and the extent of treatment can be difficult.
“While the severity of the injury certainly plays a role in this, there’s still a lot of uncertainty — you frequently have two patients with similar injuries who have different recoveries,” Dennis said of her study regarding TBI recovery in children.
Still, Porto said charges being filed is a relief for Ariel’s family.
“It's by no means over for the family,” he said. “This is one step in a long pursuit of justice.”
As such, the family is in no rush for the case to go to trial.
“What we really want to know are the true, long deficits that Ariel will be enduring prior to making any sort of determination,” Porto said.
Doctors, according to Porto, expect Ariel to contend with long-term brain damage.
“We're two months removed from a traumatic brain injury, a pediatric traumatic brain injury ...," Porto said. "There is nothing for sure, but it seems like this is going to be a long-term problem that she will be enduring for the rest of her life."
Baker said they want Ariel's family to focus on her healing.
"We want to make sure we take as much pressure off of them, so that they can focus on her, improving her health," Baker said. "Hopefully, that happens in the near future, but she’s got a long road to go. Let us worry about this. We’re going to carry this as professionals and we want justice for her.”