LENEXA, Kan. — Nine-year-old Owen Larue is recovering at Children's Mercy Hospital.
When he first arrived almost two months ago, he was fighting for life after a car hit him at West 79th Street and Pflumm Road in Lenexa.
"And I couldn't believe it was one of my students, much less any other kid," Angela Fritschie, Larue's teacher at Mill Creek Elementary School said.
It was the first time in her twenty years as an educator that Fritschie had to explain why a classmate wouldn't be back for the rest of the year.
"At first I don't think they understood how severe it was, you know, they're only third graders," Fritschie said in an interview with 41 Action News on Sunday. "So I think that they were like, 'Oh, I hope he didn't break a bone.' You know, they were very just like, 'Oh, maybe he just got tussled.'"
The crash broke several of Larue's bones and until last week he was in the intensive care unit after undergoing four surgeries.
He's moved to Children's Mercy Rehab unit, where he'll spend the next four to six weeks but faces a long journey of occupational and physical therapy.
All this, with his parents right by his side.
"I know that they are just devastated, like they have poured everything into making sure Owen comes out the same Owen that he was before this accident." Fritschie said.
Friends, classmates and the community have stepped up to support them emotionally and financially, raising more than $12,000 on a GoFundMe campaign Fritschie set up--to help with mounting medical costs.
"And I know that the family are still asking for prayers, and good wishes for them as Owen continues this path," Fritschie said.
She adds Owen riding the bike around the neighborhood was a familiar sight. She'd often spot him from one of the classroom windows as he went to a nearby park.
Fritschie is now using this crash to remind others about safety.
"When they ride their bikes I want them to wear their helmets, but I just feel like it's not just the bikers that need to be aware, the drivers, you know, accidents can happen in a split second so just everybody being aware of their surroundings," Fritschie said.
The driver in the crash stayed at the scene following the crash.
On Sunday, a spokesperson for the Lenexa Police Department said investigators "are still awaiting toxicology results (drugs), but alcohol toxicology was negative. Once we get back all tests, we will forward it out for review. We did also confirm that the child ran a red light in front of the driver."