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Nov-18-2008 07:30printcommentsVideo

Boy Crushed by Truck Continues to Inspire Disabled Veterans (VIDEO)

"Big Evan" is a 'Boy Wonder' whose good deeds would compete with Superman any day.

VA child volunteer
"Big Evan" recovering from his injuries.
Photo: Susan Tackitt

(MARION, Ill.) - Few stories give my heart strings the workout that this one does. A 4-year boy who spends his extra time cheering up wounded and disabled vets with his grandmother in Illinois, narrowly survived being crushed by a pick-up truck. The story involves gritted teeth, forgiveness, perseverance, recovery, and a really unforgettable airplane ride.

On October 8th, 2008, Susan Tackitt's youngest grandson was run over by a 3/4 ton pickup. Both wheels went over this tiny child who has been a VA Volunteer for more than half of his life. Evan was with his family when he was injured, but he was not in his hometown.

Susan says Evan was in Indiana when the accident happened. The driver of the pick-up thought he had run over an animal, and he actually rolled forward to make sure the vehicle was clear. This caused the rear wheel of the vehicle to pass over Evan.

Susan says the man nearly lost his mind when he realized what had happened.

"When he got out he seen it was a child and started pulling out his hair and screaming, "I killed a kid, I killed a kid"! The neighbors seen it but couldn't do anything to stop it because it happeend so fast. The ambulance was called 4 times before they got here."

"Big Evan" was seriously injured when he was hit by the truck. "His femor and pelvis were broken, he had lacerations on his liver and spline and was in a full body cast," Tackitt said, adding that, "For four days he wouldn't eat."

Tackitt is a pilot with the Civil Air Patrol in Illinois and she is a non-stop supporter of veterans in her state. Her significant other, Lynn, fought in Vietnam. Susan lost him after many years, but with the help of "Big Evan" she has been making the rounds, helping other veterans who are suffering and in need of additional care. When Evan was hurt, Susan was smack dab in the middle of working with a local veteran to bring his life together.

"I've been helping a Vietnam Veteran get settled in a home new to him after being in the VA nursing home for five years. He is a diabetic and has a very bad sore on his leg which I am trying to help nurse it to keep him from losing the one leg he has left."

Helping veterans is an everyday part of Susan's life, but she was not prepared for Evan's accident. The little boy showed incredible strength and turned out to be a great candidate for recovery.

"The trauma doctor released him but not after stressing his concern about Evan's liver and spleen. Doc said they didn't do surgery on him because they both stopped bleeding on their own. His concern was that that any sudden jar could dislodge the clots and start bleeding and then they would have to do surgery."

The decision was made to fly Evan home. Susan Tackitt volunteered to fly the mission which involved maneuvering the plane through tricky weather. "I said I would, but only after doing an extensive weather briefing," Tackitt said.

Susan says the "lullaby baby turbulence" was just enough to rock Evan to sleep on the flight. She says she took the decent slow and reported that to Marion tower that she was "in no hurry to land this thing because it had to be smooth. The tower told me to take all the time I needed and that I was cleared to land. I made my decent very slow and every 500 ft I would level out a while so I didn't make his ears feel the pressure change."

Evan with one of his veteran buddies at the Marion, Illinois VA

This was more than a creature comfort; Tackitt says the slow descent was important as pressure affects a person's ears, and it could have the capability of impacting Evan's blood flow.

"Shortly after landing I called the guy who ran over my grandson. I introduced myself and told him I didn't blame him and I firmly believe it was an accident. The driver told me 'he will never forgive himself.' I said if he wanted to do something for this family, the best thing he could do was to forgive himself and not to carry that through life. I also told him that if he couldn't, he should take it to the Lord like I did. God bless America and remember Big Evan in your prayers."

After loading Big Evan up in the car they were off to the Vietnam Veteran's house who Susan had been juggling time with, between he and her grandson. "I was grateful to have a place I could take Big Evan where it was already set up for him," she said.

Susan says her daughter and son-in-law never missed a beat, staying with Evan until they were granted permission to take him home.

"The last time she was there was the day of the accident, she never left his side until grandma flew him home. I flew up there the day before and Aeroflite allowed me to keep the plane overnight so I could fly him home; and to Aeroflite, I thank you and I'm grateful that you allowed this."

Susan began by giving a very tired mom and dad a break, taking the night shift with Evan.

"I put the railings down on both hospital beds, pushed them together and there he slept all night for the first time while holding my hand. All I can say is after 54 years of life I now know what love is. The only love I've ever known was tough love to civilians and Military mode to those who understand, and to those who don't please don't ask, too frustrating to explain... God bless to all and thanks for your prayers."

Soon Evan began dragging himself around in a body cast, then wheeled around on a skate board that he is using to help walk with.

"It looks so weird to see him walking." Tackitt said. But those steps mean more than words can express. As if he didn't miss a beat, this boy has already been back to see his buddies at the VA. Tackitt says the outpouring of support has been meaningful.

"I got permission from the VA to use the video to promote being a VA volunteer. We really need more to help our veterans and our military. We also need more watch dogs to make sure the guys in VA nursing homes have their needs met and also to visit and put a smile on their faces."

She says one of the funniest moments came when Evan told her, "Grandma, you know when I stay in the house my butt itches but when you take me somewhere it don't." It was a strange honor for Tackitt, but she says she'll take it.

"I laughed and told him you know, it looks like a good day to throw rocks in a pond. He got all excited and said yeah grandma, that's a good idea, so off we went to throw rocks in a friends pond."

Both Susan Tackitt and her grandson Evan, say there is a lesson for everyone in his story.

"I just hope we can get people interested in helping our veterans, military and their families especially now that the holidays are approaching."

Here are videos showing "Big" Evan:


Also, check these other reports on Evan's progress:

Four Year Old Returns Home

Four-year-old boy still helping veterans - even after accident

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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harold lee owens August 12, 2009 6:13 am (Pacific time)

this is one tough little feller, i hope all is well with him and his grandmother, a grat lady in any veteran,s book ex- 101st trooper

Mitch November 23, 2008 8:57 pm (Pacific time)

Thank You Evan. You are an inspiration to us all.

Matt Johnson November 18, 2008 11:22 am (Pacific time)

Hang in there buddy and get well soon!

Susan Tackitt November 18, 2008 8:36 am (Pacific time)

Tim, I can't thank you enough, you did an awesome job. Since there weren't any pins put in to set the bones he still can be a grunt like his late Vietnam grandpa or follow his late great grandpas path who served in the Navy where he was under water demolition (pre-curser to our Seals) if he so choses. Or he may want to be a pilot like grandma, what ever. I want to thank you and everyone for all your prayers, this little guy is a blessing to so many people. I mostly thank God we still have him. God bless America, we're still one Nation under God and having 5 ancestors who served in the American Revolution I have the right to say so.

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