Girl struck by car now at rehab facility

MIDDLEBURY — Charlotte LaFayette-McConnell, the two-and-a-half-year-old Middlebury girl who was seriously injured after being struck by an SUV on Weybridge Street on April 1, has now moved to a rehabilitation center in Boston to undergo what could be a lengthy period of therapy on her road to what physicians believe will be a full recovery.
“We came up here to get her ‘Boston Strong,’” Charlotte’s grandmother, Joyce Duclos, said during a phone conversation from the young girl’s room at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Charlotte’s arrival in Boston as that city marks the first anniversary of its healing following the 2013 Boston Marathon tragedy is not lost on the family.
“We’re calling this ‘Charlotte Strong,’” Duclos said.
Indeed, Charlotte has already come a long way since the accident, which shocked the community and in particular folks at the Otter Creek Child Center. That’s where Charlotte attended programs and where her mom, Karly LaFayette-McConnell, works as an early educator. Karly said her colleagues and students at the center have been sending Charlotte cards, pictures, toys, books and flowers.
“(The Otter Creek Child Center) has been very supportive about any decisions I have to make to support Charlotte’s needs,” said Karly, who plans to stay with her daughter during her lengthy recuperation.
That recuperation began after she was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where she was diagnosed and treated for a traumatic brain injury. Her first waking day, according to family members, was Tuesday, April 8 — which also happened to be her mom’s birthday. As of last Wednesday, she is making noises and various gestures, but not talking, according to Karly.
“She’s still in the process of waking up,” Karly said. “She’s responding to noises, looking in the direction of noises and recognizing familiar faces.”
It was on Wednesday, April 16, that Charlotte moved from Dartmouth-Hitchcock to the Spaulding Rehab Center. She recently met the specialists with whom she will be working on speech and movement skills. The family has been told that Charlotte will undergo around three hours of therapy each day.
It’s too soon to tell how long she’ll need the physical and speech therapy, but it figures to be quite a while.
“We’re looking at months,” Karly said. “It takes a lot of time for kids to recover from traumatic brain injuries.”
She noted her daughter is in good spirits and has “had some smiles. Her character and spirit are definitely coming out more and more each day. Her sassiness is coming out.”
Relatives, friends, co-workers and even strangers continue to inquire about Charlotte and contribute to the various fundraising efforts to help defray the family’s expenses during this challenging period. An online effort at www.gofundme.com/80gje8 had raised more than $14,000 toward a $20,000 goal as of late last week.
The money will help pay for equipment and supplies that Charlotte will need in her long-term recovery. It is also helping defray some of the lodging and meal expenses for family members heading to Boston for visits to buoy the young girl’s spirits. Family members stressed their gratitude to the many people who have donated money to the cause.
Some silent auctions, 50-50 raffles and benefit dinners are in the works to help Charlotte and her family.
Karly said she did not want to discuss Charlotte’s accident itself, but she did say she harbors “no resentment.”
Duclos is pleased to see her granddaughter make progress. She recalled Charlotte’s recent meeting with members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team who airlifted her to the hospital back on April 1.
“They embraced her and gave her a special pin,” Duclos said. “She’s now a member of the DHART team. We joked that maybe she’d be back when one of them retires to take a job.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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