Kenai boy in accident taken off life support

Posted: Sunday, May 30, 2004

As summer vacation begins for most Kenai Peninsula school children, the father of the 10-year-old Kenai boy who was hit by two cars a week ago while riding his bike, can't emphasize enough the importance of bike safety and wearing a helmet.

"That bike helmet is the most dangerous piece of equipment if you're not wearing it," said Robert Bushnell, father of Bobby Bushnell, who was seriously injured after he rode his bike into traffic near Country Foods in Kenai on May 21.

"His helmet's still lying right there in the living room. If he'd been wearing it, he probably would only have the leg injury and the lung thing," the father said.

The younger Bushnell spent the week in a coma in critical condition with brain, lung and leg injuries at Children's Hospital at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

Bobby was scheduled to undergo surgery on his leg Friday. According to his father, doctors determined there were blood clots on the portion of the boy's brain that stores personality traits and memory.

As of Saturday, Bobby still was not showing any brain activity, and his family decided to take him off life support.

"We donated all his organs so maybe someone else's life can be saved so nobody else's family has to go through this," Robert Bushnell said Saturday.

The father of three said Bobby always wore his helmet, but on May 21, he was just planning to head down to the skateboard park, with no major streets to cross, so he went out without it.

"Bubba that's what we call him actually has two helmets," the elder Bushnell said.

"The first one we bought him just wasn't cool enough."

Bobby, however, made a detour to find out where his best friend was and learned the friend had gone over to the carnival in the 3 Bears parking lot along the Kenai Spur Highway.

Excited to find his friend, and at the idea of a carnival in town, Bobby rode out of the grocery store parking lot and onto Willow Street where he was hit by a 1992 Ford pickup truck in the southbound lane and thrown into the path of a 1988 Volkswagen in the northbound lane.

Kenai firefighters were out working in their yard a block or so away and rushed to Bobby's aid.

"Those firemen were on him in a minute," Robert Bushnell said.

Bushnell said he doesn't believe the two drivers could have done anything to avoid hitting Bobby, it happened so fast.

The father was planning to take Bobby's two sisters, Allison, who is almost 8, and Brianna, 5, to visit their brother in the hospital where his wife, Jenny, had been since the accident. The family stayed at Providence House while in Anchorage.

"I really appreciate everything the community has done for us, helping us pay for traveling back and forth to Anchorage and staying up there," Bushnell said.

He also said the local Girl Scouts have set up a bank account in Bobby Bushnell's name at Wells Fargo to help defray expenses. The two Bushnell girls are in scouting.

"If anything good has come out of this, I see all the kids in the neighborhood wearing their helmets today," Bushnell said.

"Bobby's been riding a bike since he was 4, and, in fact, his first bike came with a helmet.

"Parents just have to make sure kids wear them."

Clarion reporter Jenny Neyman contributed to this story.

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