FAIRWAY, Kan. — For the first time since he was injured after being struck by a car, 11-year-old Carter Wright returned to the intersection of Reinhardt and Howe drives Thursday in Fairway.
"I was coming down that street and I was going down where that stop sign was," he said. "The car was coming down that way and I didn't see it. That's all I remember."
The driver hit Carter in October as he rode his bicycle at the intersection in the Reinhardt Estates.
"We heard the sirens and my friend and I looked at each other and thought, 'Gosh I hope everyone is OK,'" Carter's mom, Sarah Wright, said. "Then came the phone call and I (ran over from) a couple houses down."
Although Carter was wearing a helmet, he suffered three brain bleeds and a fractured skull. He spent his 11th birthday in the Children's Mercy Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
The city of Fairway ordered a study of the intersection, which was conducted by George Butler Associates, after the crash and a 41 Action News story voicing neighbor concerns.
The firm completed the study in October. determining that a “prioritized right-of-way order” was needed. According to the study, 1,500 vehicles travel through the intersection on a daily basis.
The intersection "was a problem for quite a while," Wright said.
The city has since installed more stop signs and replaced a yield sign with a stop sign. Crews also removed all brush from the intersection island and painted lines on the street to better show the traffic flow.
According to the city manager, the changes are likely to be permanent.
It's a good start, but it didn't come soon enough to spare Carter.
"As far as the city moving forward, we are still pleased with that," Wright said. "We are still working on Carter."
Carter started his re-entry into school but he has yet to return full-time.
According to Wright, he continues his outpatient therapy, focusing on regaining cognitive skills. His neurology surgery team recently cleared him of cervical collar.
"Right now, we are working on the cognition part (of his recovery)," she said. "What does he remember on a day-to-day basis, his sequencing? Is he able to retain new information at school? What does that look like in two, five and 10 years? Our goal now is to give him the tools down the road."
Carter and his family will not know the extent of his traumatic brain injury for at least another year.
Meanwhile, his friends have started a GoFundMe account to help with his ongoing medical and therapy bills.
"We are really not sure where this is taking us," Wright said. "It's day to day, it's week to week. We have step forwards and step backs. And you just take it day-by-day."